Ty Pennington in his studio – I love the colorful and inspirational wall of swatches!
From the Screen to Your Next Project
Confession time: I was OBSESSED with the TV show Trading Spaces. The idea of letting your neighbors decorate your house while you decorate theirs was catchy enough to get me watching, but add in great designers (Genevieve and Vern were always my favorites), stressful time limits, and occasionally crazy design ideas (remember the episode when Hildi covered all the walls in the homeowners' room with straw?!), the show was a recipe for success. Oh yeah, and let's not forget one talented, funny, and charming carpenter, Ty Pennington. Ty was a hit on Trading Spaces, and many watchers followed him when he moved on to host Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, a remodel show full of feel-good stories that always make me cry.
While it was obvious from his work on TV that Ty has a great eye for design, I was still impressed to learn that not only does he have furniture, bedding, and home decor lines, he's also recently released Ty Pennington Impressions, a line of fabric with Westminster Fibers. We included a short write-up on the new fabric line in the Spring 2011 issue of Stitch, and when the photos came across my desk, I was wowed! The designs are inspired by photographs Ty has taken on his travels, and each is based on patterns he created by hand using hand-made woodblock stamps. The patterns are warm, earthy, and organic, with a fabulous global feel.
I was also really excited when I saw Ty on the cover of the new issue of Studios. Editor Cate Prato was lucky enough to sit down with Ty and talk to him about his inspiration and his studio. Here's a snapshot of their conversation:
Cate Prato: Why do you think having a studio is important?
Ty Pennington: I could say that it's a necessary space for organizing my design tools and resources, but the truth is I just like having somewhere that is for the sole purpose of creative thinking. Don't get me wrong, I have a man cave where I go to unwind and hang out with the guys, but the studio is different. It's there that I take the things that have inspired me during my time away from home and pull everything together in my mind. The photos, the sketches, the swatches, the trinkets – all the things I connect together to come up with my designs.
Ty created fabric motifs by experimenting with hand-stamping.
CP: What types of projects do you work on in your studio?
TP: The studio for me is about conception. I create a lot of patterns – for wall coverings, for fabrics, for large art installations – and that's done in the studio. But most of the actual building or making of things I do outside my own home or, if I'm experimenting with something maybe it's in my backyard. For instance, when I conceived the designs for the fabric line a lot of the work was done on the computer in the studio where I could quickly access my photos and color decks. But once I had in mind what patterns I wanted, I took it to the backyard where I did some experiments using paint – trying out different shapes with colors on canvas.
CP: When you were working on your fabric designs, did you find yourself thinking of what you would use each pattern for, or was it purely a design project?
TP: No, I absolutely did not think about what each pattern could be used for, but neither was it simply a design project. I took a lot of time considering how the designs would work on the fabrics – movement in fabric is different than if, for instance, I'd put the same design on a wall covering. But thinking, "Oh, this is great for a pillow" or "What if someone makes a baby quilt of this" was not part of my process. In fact, that's the fun of doing the fabric line. I can't wait to see what people come up with then they interpret my designs for their own use.
CP: What is your #1 home studio organization tip?
TP: Edit your stuff! If you have seen it done before, get rid of it. I have so many magazines and books that for me it makes sense to go through them and snap a pic of the things I like in them, download those into a file, and then donate the actual mag to a library or send it to be recycled. Stacks and stacks of stuff don't make you more creative.