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Organic Chemistry: Textile Designer Carley Kahn

Organic Chemistry: Textile Designer Carley Kahn

Textile designer Carley Kahn names the scarves in her collection after hikes she’s taken, and bases their patterns on her own photographs. Whether Ngawha Springs in New Zealand or Wahkeena Falls in her hometown of Portland, Kahn is unabashed about nature’s influence on her life and work. “It’s such a cliché, but I really am inspired by nature and feel a responsibility to take care of the earth,” says Kahn, whose eco-friendly organic textiles are printed, sewn and cut domestically. Describing her designs as “organic with an edge,” Kahn’s upholstery fabrics begin with strict geometric motifs like chevrons or checkerboards, to which she introduces more abstract ideas like the pattern of rocks on a river bottom, and blends the two. “I’m like a scientist combining different techniques,” she says, noting her textiles have a very quiet palette. “Color is the hardest thing to come up with, so I tend to gravitate toward neutrals for the upholstery,” she says. It’s a formula that, despite its muted makeup, continues to yield dynamic results.

LX: GREATEST INFLUENCE:

CK: I spent a summer abroad in Copenhagen studying textile design, and it completely changed the trajectory of my life.

LX: CURRENT PROJECTS:

CK: I’m working on my first jewelry collection, and am designing my spring 2014 line of scarves and pillows. I plan to introduce wallpaper soon, as well.

LX: FAVORITE SHOP:

CK: Beam & Anchor carries an ever-evolving selection of home goods, jewelry, apothecary, custom furniture and ceramics with a focus on local makers. It’s my go-to spot for gift giving.

LX: SOMEONE TO WATCH:

CK: Apparatus in New York. Their lighting fixtures are at once utilitarian and subtly luxurious, and their range of finishes exudes an unexpected layer of warmth.

LX: DESIGN ICON:

CK: Josef Frank’s pattern repeats often consist of smaller ones that economize the size of the printing block and hide the start and end of a motif. To lay out his designs this way, while keeping a seamless flow of his abstracted drawings, is absolute mastery to me.

carleykahn.com;
503.308.0288

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