This designer reinvents archival patterns in an artisanal way
Growing up in Massachusetts, Patrick McBride was immersed in a superb upholstery. His grandparents Leslie and DD Tillett founded the Sheffield-based fabric factory Tillett Textiles in 1946, and in turn he learned firsthand the ins and outs of the family business, including the fan base boasted of the likes of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and sister parish. “Growing up in a textile factory is probably a bit like growing up on a dairy farm,” he says. Home business. “You’ll either love it, hate it, or want nothing to do with it. I was the child who enjoyed “playing” in the factory after school and on weekends. »
Although much of his childhood was spent installing screen printing, McBride opted to study lighting design in college before moving to New York for a job at a lighting studio. “I spent 15 years specializing in high-end residential lighting, which, looking back, ended up being my foundation for how the world of interior design works,” he says. “That was my backstage pass. »
Coincidentally, around the same time McBride was starting to feel less inspired by lighting, his family was looking to breathe new life into their decades-old business. In 2016 he took over the operations of Tillett Textiles – alongside his mother, Kathleen Tillett – where he now spends his days helping to design, hand paint and screen print bespoke fabrics for clients around the world. “The actual process of creating fabrics has remained true from the start,” he says. “In the digital age, we’ve managed to stay pretty low-tech.”
All of the brand’s textiles are printed and striped by hand at the factory, a process that typically involves two paint back people pushing rhythmically back and forth through linen, cotton, silk and other natural materials. . While McBride, who today serves as creative director, still maintains (and produces) legendary designs, including the company’s archive of the iconic print Daisy Kennedy Onassis once employed in the White House bedroom—he also oversees riffing on these classics, as well as the development of brand new models. “The creative inspiration for Tillett has always been nature and all the different ways organic patterns interact with each other,” he says. “We seem to be drawn to the beautiful idea of imperfectly perfect, and the handprint process allows things to be uniquely imperfect and that’s what makes it special. »
What has changed, according to McBride, is the market. “Despite our entirely bespoke house DNA, it was important to offer ready-made collections,” he explains. “There was a time when ‘bespoke’ meant super expensive and extra-long lead times, and we strive to be an accessible source of incredibly fine, handcrafted fabrics.” By offering both, Tillett Textiles appeals to customers who have always followed the brand and to those who are new to it.
All of the company’s designs can also be converted into handcrafted wallcoverings backed by a choice of paper or acrylic. “The process of hand-printing wallpaper is really no different from fabric,” says McBride. “I am particularly impressed with our [acrylic] fabric-backed wallcoverings – they have a tangible quality that brings warmth and texture to a room in a way that stands out from paper or paint.
In the coming months, the company plans to release two soon-to-be-named artist collaborations, including one with the Netherlands-based illustrator Pauline Greuel. “What inspires me most is inspiring others,” McBride says. “Everything is printed to order, which ensures that we always create truly unique fabrics.”
Homepage Photo: Inside the Tillett Textiles factory in Sheffield, Massachusetts | Visko Hatfield