Carly Lewis

A Fabric Within a Fabric

Literally translated as “deceives the eye,” the French term trompe l’oeil refers to a technique that has been employed by artists for centuries and usually uses a two-dimensional plane to suggest a fictional three-dimensional space. For instance, the traditional use of tromp l’oeil in this plan for the ceiling of a chapel creates the illusion of a grand architectural space, a space that doesn’t really exist but imparts an impressive sense of luxury and heavenly light on its viewers.
Warner Fabrics, Anne White, tromp l’oeil

One Artist's Range From Traditional to Abstract

Lace-making was a tradition in Luba Krejci’s native Czechoslovakia, but enthusiasm for the craft waned in the twentieth century. Krejci sought to reverse that trend by creating fresh lace designs like this one for others to produce. She intended to revitalize the disappearing art form by inspiring new interest in it.
bobbin lace, four seasons, Luba Krejci, linen, Czechoslovakia

An Anonymous, Yet Patriotic Textile Design

The designer and manufacturer of this textile are unknown, but the subject is telling of the cultural climate that produced it. If I didn’t know its approximate date, I might have guessed it was designed in the 1930s.
Manhattan, Art Deco, New Deal, WPA murals, The Great Depression, Paris Exposition, Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Clayton Knight, Ruth Reeves, American, Patriotic, 1930s

A Hand Made Swiss Embroidery

The artist who made this doily-style table mat is unknown but the embroidered object dates to the first quarter of the twentieth century and was made in Appenzell Innerrhoden, Switzerland. The canton (or state) was an unlikely sanctuary for hand embroidery skills, which resisted industrialization despite literally being surrounded by it.
Switzerland, hand embroidery, cotton, linen, St. Gallen, Appenzell

Historic Revivalism Meets French Art Deco

In design history as in art history, works are often organized into distinct chronological styles or movements. Such a rigid framework tends to neglect a certain natural fluidity inherent in the evolution of style. For example, 1920s French designs cannot always be simply defined by such broad strokes as Art Deco, Moderne, or Cubism. Many examples from the era notoriously blur those lines, like this woven silk from 1925. This design is the product of a successful dialogue among multiple influences.
Andre Mare, La Compagnie des Arts Français, Louis Sue, Art Deco

A Mass Customizable Textile Design

Marimekko’s fashion and textile designs from the 1970s captured the free spirit and funky aesthetic of the decade with bold yet simple organic forms. The Finnish company’s approach to design also reflected interest in a youth culture which questioned conformity and authority. Marimekko famously blurred the lines of gendered fashion systems. The company also challenged traditional design methods, adjusting their approach to allow for mass customization.
Pentti Rinta, Marimekko, 1970s, mass customization

A Conscious Shift from French Tradition

Part of an iconic collection of designs known as the Americana Prints, It, with its typographic subject and nod to cubism, represents a conscious shift away from traditional French silk design. French manufacturers had long dominated the silk industry, while American silk producers got by hiring artisans to merely copy French designs. Americana Prints intended to challenge that system.
silk, Americana, silk printing, Paris Exposition, Kneeland Greene, jazz

Something Borrowed and Something Blue

England enjoyed imported indigo dye from India in the 17th century. It wasn’t until the mid 18th century, however, that two important innovations made delicate designs like this Bromley Hall textile possible.
printing, dyeing, indigo, copperplate

A Gift that Keeps on Giving

Uniformity with moments of variety delight the senses in this mid-century wall hanging. Using natural fibers and the ancient technique of tapestry weaving, Swedish designer Ann-Mari Forsberg created this wall hanging, Red Crocus, in which flattened silhouettes of the flower dance across the visual field.
Ann-Mari Forsberg, Elizabeth Gordon, Swedish modern design

An Unexpected Creature Fuels the Flames of Tradition

This rhythmic pattern of meandering flames and smoke is one in a series of four woven fabrics, which together represent the four basic elements of nature: earth, water, air and the one depicted here, fire. The Four Elements were a popular theme throughout the history of decorative arts, as seen in this drawing from about 1815. This textile reveals another motif that may be less familiar: the salamander.
Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs, Art Deco, Yvonne Clarinval, Four Elements