Lofty Talks Interior Design with Lisa Fine

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You might recognize Lisa Fine from Lofty’s roundup of the 10 Interior Designers you should be following on Instagram right now. (Check out Irving and Fine’s feed– you’ll be glad you did.) What we love most about her vibrant looks: Lisa doesn’t just design interiors, she designs her own textiles. We spoke with Lisa to find out more about her inspirations and her process. Fine perused Lofty and came up with a picklist of pieces that would be at home in her gorgeous Parisian apartment.


The “red room” in Fine’s Paris apartment, photographed by Simon Upton

Inspiration

 

“I was immediately captivated on my first trip to India”

 

Seeing Fine’s 212 area code, I thought we could trade tips for fabric buying in NYC. I asked her, “Do you look for fabrics up on 36th Street?” Fine likes NYC’s Fashion District as much as the next designer, but when she’s sourcing textiles for inspiration, she literally goes straight to the source: India. What makes Fine a textile expert? For starters, she made her first trip to India 20 years ago, and has been back 50 times since then, and made many trips to Istanbul as well. She has always loved textiles and color, and she traces traditional Indian designs – flowers, birds, geometric patterns- to their ancient roots in Persia.

Fine takes a thorough, almost academic approach to her design research. Where does she look for design inspiration? Historical documents! Museums and bookstores serve Lisa’s research. Indian textiles in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (especially its florals and paisleys), and NYC’s Asia Society Museum in the Upper East Side, for example. Fine chases one-dimensional style cliches away from her work by seeking out the story behind the pattern. It’s an exercise in rigor and dedication. One of Fine’s most popular fabrics is luxor, a chevron stripe. “You see that in a lot of Indian textiles, especially in borders. However, that particular fabric I found in a museum archive and It was an Egyptian Christian textile.” Who knew? Primary-source research into centuries-old traditions keeps her textiles pulsing with richness and aesthetic authenticity. “But I find that they’re very contemporary,” she explains, “because they’re so easy to live with.” In other words, Lisa’s designs are timeless.

“The more one sees, the more one can be inspired.”

 

So, where should we look for our own pattern inspiration? Lisa espouses the inspirational value of the street markets in India and Istanbul. Looking a little closer to home? Try textile collections in museums and bookstores that specialize in textiles or pottery. Lisa’s advice, “You can never see enough.”

Let’s Talk Shop

I was curious about a textile designer’s day-to-day routine. Turns out, it’s not all Pinterest and colored pencils. The technical knowledge required to make custom fabric sets Fine apart from other decorators. “It can take a year to develop a fabric. You have to have the artwork done, the colors separated. Then you make the screens, do the strike off.” A strike off is a sample batch of fabric used to test production methods. And it’s essential. The most challenging part of the whole process? According to Fine, “The testing of the colors. You never know until it’s made if colors will look good together. A slight variation in the detail is what makes it beautiful.”

In Fine’s interview with Elle Decor, she gives refreshing insight into the timelessness and attention to detail of Irving & Fine’s garments. They’re “not about fashion, they are about textile, embroidery, and color.” These guiding principles underlie the quality and uniqueness of the garments.

Lisa Fine’s Lofty Picks

Here’s a cheat sheet with some of Fine’s favorite design elements:

  • •Tented rooms
  • •Geometric patterns
  • •Baskets
  • •Whimsical animal motifs
  • •Flatwoven rugs
  • •Embroideries
  • •Candlesticks – “just for fun!”

These are the items that caught her eye- available now on Lofty:

 

FEATURE IMAGE: Design inspiration from the Irving & Fine Instagram feed