We have been lucky to work with Susan on a few different projects over the years, and we are always in awe of the detail and intentionality in her work. In light of her most recent textile collection in collaboration with McGee & Co., we caught up with her to talk more about the history, and inspiration behind block printing, pattern, and of course, her beautiful pillow designs!
Our team has been long inspired by Susan, and if you are not already familiar with her work, we know you will be too. Scroll through to read our conversation and read about Susan’s unique perspective on the art of pattern and how it can bring any vignette to life.
Shop the latest Susan Connor x McGee & Co. collection here.
I came to block printing through my artwork. I was looking for a way to translate some very detailed motifs I had been exploring onto cloth. But, being self-taught and knowing very little about textile production, I tried many techniques to get my designs there before I came to creating my own block engraving method, paired with a specific ink consistency. Once I began to master my own process, things really came to life. And happily, the resulting style became a mainstay of our collection today. (And today, I do know a bit more than I did!)
From our Susan Connor x McGee & Co. collection
Block printing as a process is gloriously variable. Each impression creates a moment of sweet satisfaction and surprise as no two impressions are ever really the same. It is not overstating it to say that everything, different combinations of ink and material, what your block is made of, and sometimes even the weather or the printer’s mood, can have an effect on the outcome. But, I like to think my style is unique for its curated focus, consistency, and careful detail. For me, it’s not as much about production, happy accidents, or simply covering something with print. I try to reach a place where things feel authentic, beautiful, calm, and considered — a balance of intention and process.
Pattern is such a big umbrella. There are so many choices, styles, options, and types. I always encourage our customers to let their souls speak when they choose and pick what really feels right to them. That little voice saying, “I really like that!” is an important voice. In many ways, it’s as much about feeling as it is about seeing…maybe more. Pattern is about what you love and how you feel. It’s how you make a space personal. And along with that, it’s a fantastic way to really set a space apart, to create your unique place, special to you, beautifully layered, just like life.
Explore more about Susan’s work and her process here.
For any printed fabric, the base cloth is very, very important and plays a huge role in the persona of the finished product. We always use natural foundations (linen) because it truly yields the most luxurious, high-end result for our specific designs. Linen is also an incredibly environment-aware choice, and Belgian linen is some of the most responsibly-grown materials on Earth. Also, historically, linen was one of the very first cloths made, first woven in Babylon. Many of my designs reference ancient shapes and motifs, so linen goes hand in hand with creating fabric that feels authentic, artistic, special, and connected to its source. So “the base” is really integral to process, aesthetics and ethics.
I’ve done so many things, from waiting tables to creative directing for corporate brands. I’ve framed pictures and painted them. I’ve worked in a library, in an art gallery, in a store, and behind a deli counter…to name just a few. But yes, I have always been drawn to cloth. I love that it can change shape, tell a story, that it can be sewn, made into something else while still being itself. It can comfort people, provide warmth and cover, and provide moments of beauty. It is an integral part of the feeling of home, yet there is so much it can do and be. It is a material of possibility.
I always try to create pieces that feel versatile and classic yet fresh and inspiring. I often take my own inspiration directly from the designers I get to work with. It is truly amazing to work among others who are so creative and visionary.
One aspect I’ve always loved about Shea and Syd and the “Make Life Beautiful” philosophy is that it always includes the presence of the natural world. My own favorite interiors always involve a little of the outdoors, and I always love seeing Shea outdoors in her garden or bringing elements of nature into a client space; planting, cooking, putting an organic centerpiece in a room…Adding those special grounding touches. Taking moments to revive through moments in nature. I wanted very much for this latest collection to feel like an extension of those moments, and a celebration of gratitude for the beauty in our world. Natural colors, botanical details, and gentle colors immediately came to mind, along with shapes that feel organic, airy, and even a little architectural.
Behind the scenes of Susan’s process to create our partnered collection
Don’t forget to check Susan’s website and stay tuned with her upcoming collections via @susanconnor_ny
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