I have been fortunate to begin the interview process for a design position at the Anthropologie store in Salt Lake City! I was asked to create a display design and to document the process so here are some of my sketches, thoughts and photos of the process.
I wanted my design to reflect the Anthropologie store aesthetic as well as adding my own personality to it. With all the rainy weather we have been having lately I found myself daydreaming of sunny skies and warm breezes. It just hasn't felt like summer around here, so I knew that I wanted to do something that was light, airy, warm and would have slight movement. These descriptive words got me thinking about how I could communicate those things through ordinary everyday objects. I began recalling summertime memories to see if there was anything that would spark an idea.
-Warm summer nights on the patio with twinkling lanterns.
-Backyard full of Dandelions.
-Dancing on the Trampoline with long pieces of sheer fabric attached to my arms.
-Watching the colors of the sunset blend and change from light blue skies to pink, orange, red, and then to a deep indigo blue.
-Wading through the creek in front of our family cabin in Colorado on hot days.
-Playing in the cool shaded forest behind my house growing up.
-Hanging the linens on the clothesline and then running through them.
-Playing in the sprinklers.
These all seemed like great memories and I really liked the memory of hanging linens on the clothesline. Growing up in a large family there was lots of laundry to do, so there were always clean linens out drying on the line. This got me thinking about layers of fabric blowing in the summer breeze and how the fabric kind of flutters even when there is only a slight wind. I began sketching ideas of different types of clotheslines that I might be able to use.
Now that I had a basic idea I needed to decide on a material. I thought about white cotton sheets, but then the thought occurred to me that they might be too stark white. I wanted something with a very neutral color, with a little bit of texture and something that would flutter if you walked by it.
There is this skirt that I bought a few years back that I have in my closet, and it has nice motion to it when you walk because of the thin cotton fabric it is made out of. It also has a faint texture from the way that the fabric was dyed and sewn that I really liked.
I began digging through my fabric stash trying to find something that was similar to this skirts fabric that I could dye or treat to give it the same texture. As I was looking for a fabric I came across some old sewing patterns that I had bought at a thrift store for a quarter and EUREKA! The perfect material! It was light, airy and had that fluttering quality I was looking for! Any texture that I wanted to apply to it would take a little trial and error but the paper had lots of potential.
Once I had laid out all the pre-cut pieces of patterns I began to wonder if the brown paper bag color was a little too much. I went back to my list of summer memories to see if there were any colors that I could apply to the paper. I liked the idea of all the colors in a sunset, blue, pink, orange, red. I also thought the blending of the colors in a sunset are similar to gradation method I had used in printmaking to make backgrounds. Then a fabric dying technique came to mind and I wondered if I could apply it to paper. I began doing research about Ombre fabric dying techniques and found this great little YouTube video done by the Otis College of Art and Design.
While this video gave me information on how to Ombre fabric it did not tell me how to apply it to paper. So I began searching for more ways to ombre paper and came across a project on the Martha Stuart website on how to Ombre a Canvas tote. As I was reading the article she had tips for updating a tired looking chinese paper lantern using a similar method. I had finally found the way to add color to the paper!
Now that I knew how to ombre my paper pattern pieces, I went to work choosing muted tones of the sunset colors I had decided were best suited for my design. As I began treating the paper with color some of the paper I noticed had a waxy side(which just so happened to be the right side, or readable side). This waxy side of the paper was repelling the diluted paint mixture that I was applying to it, so I decided to spray the backsides of the pattern pieces. This turned out to be a happy accident because the pattern pieces I had colored on the right side had very dark black cut marks and sewing instructions that were too distracting.
Seeing the pattern pieces from the backside made me think of clothes being inside out, which then had me contemplating the clothing items you see on a clothesline. If you've ever noticed the clothing items on a clothesline (be it in the country or in the city) you will see the usual bed linens, trousers, shirts, but almost always there are some clothing items that everyone else is a little embarrassed to see. Its almost as if the owner of that "not to be named" piece of clothing has thrown their cares to the wind and decided to show the world their inner self!
Once I had successfully ombre'd my pattern pieces, I needed to find a way to construct an effective clothesline. I knew I didn't want to construct something that looked exactly like the clothesline I have in my backyard. I didn't want to be so literal in my interpretation, so I began brainstorming how to attempt a more organic and natural looking way to hang my pattern pieces. I thought of just stringing long lines across the store and hanging the pattern pieces on them, but then I thought they would be really high and might not be seen. I wanted my display to be near a high traffic area in the store so that when people walked by, the paper would flutter and react to the movement of air around it. My other idea was to build a small stand out of dowels or wood that would display the paper pieces like you would display clothing on a rack. This just seemed to negate the clothesline effect I wanted. Then while I was at work I got a call from my hubby telling me that he had just passed some trees being cut down and was going to haul a bunch of wood home to save for burning in our wood stove. When I got home there were large branches in my driveway of what used to be a very large sycamore tree. I was absolutely inspired by the coloring of the bark on the branches and decided that I wanted to use the branches to construct my clothes line. I decided that the best way to display it would be against a wall, as I was having a hard time envisioning a way for the tree branches to stand up on their own. So I drilled holes into the branches so they can be fixed to the wall and attached some eyelets for the clothesline to weave back and forth between the branches.
As I was driving down to the store to deliver my project I realized that I had not taken photos of my drawings and instructions for installation. So alas! I do not have those images to post to my blog. But as soon as I hear back and retrieve them I will post pictures as well as images of the display itself.
This project has been challenging yet very enjoyable and I hope to be able to do it again soon. I am looking forward to hearing feedback as well as some critique from the Anthropologie design staff. It would be a dream come true to be able to be a part of creating such inspiring displays and enjoying the artistic freedom to make ordinary objects beautiful!