Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Textile Stories: Schuyler Samperton, Bolivia and More

[From Hali, Winter 2009. Photo by Don Tuttle.]

Ever since Katie Loux's piece about Bolivian textiles and the old weavings of the Aymara was published in Hali, I've been hoping to spot more examples of similar woven stripes in some current interiors.

[Mid-18th-century Ahauyo, Camelid wool yarns, Aymara Culture, Southern Altiplano, Bolivia. William Siegal Gallery.]

[All interiors photography by Lisa Romerein posted here with permission from the designer.]

Then today, when I asked L.A. decorator Schuyler Samperton about one of her residential projects, she mentioned using striped rugs from Austin, Texas to upholster a pair of chairs. With the artistic connections between the Southwestern United States and neighboring regions to the south, my mind took a few big leaps further down to South America and back again to Hali's cover story.

Schuyler used another woven rug from Austin as a throw, mixed together in the same room with pillows made from suzani fragments and Indonesian fabrics (sourced at Maison 819). The curtain and chair fabrics are from Raoul Textiles.

Coincidentally, Indonesian and Peruvian textiles are among the cross-cultural offerings currently on view in To Dye For: A World Saturated in Color at the de Young Museum through January 9, 2011. And the de Young was the recipient of the Jeffrey Appleby Collection of Andean textiles (in the 1990s Thames & Hudson published a related book in association with the Museum.)

I also noticed Five Centuries of Indonesian Textiles at the de Young gift shop online.

Of course the V & A is a never ending source brimming with beautiful volumes.

I'm still a big fan of the budget-friendly pattern series with the accompanying (free!) CD-Rom, so I was thrilled to see Chinese Textiles in the soon-to-hit-stores fall line up.

Apart from their aesthetic beauty, textiles are such valuable tools for historians. (Not sure if it has been done already, but shouldn't there be an alternative, visually dynamic world map with countries distinguished by indigenous patterned fabrics, rather than the usual pastels? Might improve my sense of geography.) I can't help being fascinated by the ways in which curators use old textiles to play detective, and also to bring various eras to life for museum visitors.

No big surprise then that I was smiling when Enfilade, a newsletter for historians of 18th-century art and architecture, recently invited me to contribute a little something on the subject. If you are not a big textile person, no doubt you skipped this post entirely, but if you stayed to the end and your passion happens to be centuries-old houses or other decorative arts, I highly recommend Enfilade.  It's a wonderful window on the world's art and antiques scene.

Update 9:49 p.m.

So it seems the de Young is the fifth most popular museum in the U.S.! I didn't realize that until coming across this SF Gate article.

Update 9.27.2010
Many thanks to Janet Blyberg for sharing this vintage Bolivian blanket source, Spartan, via Lena Corwin.

And my own afterthought: Peruvian pillow cover from The Textile Museum gift shop. Found a shot of Newman and Redford sporting what appears to be Bolivian apparel here.



Textiles are the way I connect with other cultures and countries. They may hate us and we may be at war with them, but every day I have positive thoughts when I walk on the old Kurdish Kilims on either side of our bed. Like food, fabric is a way to connect. And as you have often pointed out, a group or culture may be considered "primitive," but usually their textiles are anything but. I'm off to Enfilade.

Sarah said...

Lovely post - textiles are simply gorgeous - I love the way certain companies (like Designers Guild) will produce new fabrics that are in the 'original' style...I think Tricia Guild designed a whole series for Windsor Castle or one of the Queen's may have been Sandringham. And to your point, the textiles are a rich 'history' and mirror to an era..a bygone world.

designchic said...

Wonderful post - love the use of textiles in unexpected ways...

mandi@interiordesignmusings said...

Textiles and fabrics are how I first got interested in interior design. I started out making heirloom dresses for my daughter and that opened an entire world of design to me! Loved the post.
mandi @

Janet said...

Lovely piece on Enfilade. It is extraordinary how few of those humble pieces of fabric survive. I have some embroidered linen sheets that belonged to my great-grandparents. Just beautiful! I like to imagine my great-grandmother embroidering them from her trousseau!

katiedid said...

Great post Courtney! I love the graphic and colorful quality of these particular textiles, and the way Schulyer Samperton has used them is so much fun!

Style Court said...

Thanks so much Katie. Thought you would appreciate Schuyler's project :)

And thanks Janet, Linda, Mandi, Sarah and Mydesignchic for sharing. As always it's wonderful to read the varied responses to a particular post.