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Designing a Connection to Italy

I think lots of creative people will probably agree about how fun the journey is from inspiration to finished product. I love running my own business because inspiration from my personal life often finds its way into new patterns in the Design Pool library. For example, a book I read about codebreaking turned into The Cryptology Collection. Recently, our partner LDI Interiors reached out with a specific request for a pattern with a “connection to Italy.” The request came from an interior design firm working on a hospital in Canada needing upholstery. They weren’t looking for something too obvious. No Leaning Towers of Pisa in half-drop. Instead, they wanted a design incorporating elements specific to Italy, such as plants or flowers. The pattern should simply bring Italy to mind when looking at it.

Three photos taken by Kristen Dettoni with scenes from Italy including a welcome sign in Italian, a cypress tree lined street and a hilltop town.

I began thinking about my own connection to Italy.

For this project, I went back and looked through photos from my 2019 trip to Coreglia Antelminelli. On that trip, my mom and I visited the town where my maternal grandparents were born. We found a small museum with a painting by a great uncle and searched through alleyways to find a bridge he painted. The whole trip was extraordinary. There is something about visiting a place where you have roots that helps you understand yourself better. I took a ton of photos on the trip and pored through them for a starting point to create a design.

Three phots taken by Kristen Dettoni from Italy including a beautiful vista, grape vines and a plant against a yellow wall.

Next, I started researching.

I pulled out my photos of plants and trees and researched to see which were native to Italy. With my photos as a guide, I sketched images and created motifs. I think it’s important to work from my own photos when I am designing rather than a photo I find while researching.

Three pattern designs created by Kristen Dettoni, inspired by her connection to Italy.
Patterns left to right: Olive Branch P1944, Cypress Check P1943, Lunaria Blend P1941

From here, I take it to the computer.

I bring all the motifs I create into my computer and think about layout and repeat. I always keep in mind the intended use for this pattern during this step. In this case, a hospital. This step is critical. A successful pattern design is about more than just the motif. The layout plays a vital role in the feel and movement of a design. Revisiting my photos reminded me of how inspired I was by the geometry of the landscape. The cypress trees, rows of grapevines, and roses everywhere seemed to possess a perfect geometry created from something organic. I tried to tap into that feeling in my layouts.

Three pattern designs created by Kristen Dettoni, inspired by her connection to Italy.
Patterns left to right: Plaid Rose P1939, Cypress Trees P1935, Lunaria Flowers P1938
Three pattern designs created by Kristen Dettoni, inspired by her connection to Italy.
Patterns left to right: Tuscan Wreath P 1934, Coreglia Herbs P1936, Lunaria Seeds P 1940

Want to know the best part?

The designs I worked on are not exclusive to this project. All of these designs are available in our licensable library. Look for them in our library and use them in your next project that needs a connection to Italy.

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Kristin Crane

Kristin Crane has designed jacquard designs for the home furnishing and residential jobber market for many years, with mills in the US and in China. Today, she writes about pattern and design trends for Design Pool from her home in Providence, Rhode Island. When not writing about fabric, she can be found weaving in her home studio or hiking along the Rhode Island coast.


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