pillows

SHAPERS /// KELLY NEWFIELD, Founder of DRESSMAKER + VOLUNTEER

Kelly Newfield is an artist, clothing designer, creator of bespoke cushions, and loving momma to Vida and Clara, two sweet old lady pit bulls, in no particular order of importance. Because Los Angeles animal rescue is essentially a massive Venn diagram and we're basically six degrees  removed from "that overweight black lab relinquished at South LA Shelter" (specific shelter dog reference subject to change), we frequently cross paths with others sharing our obsessions for all wonderful things dog and design. Naturally, Kelly's newest creative project, Dressmaker - designing and producing hand-dyed, cut, and sewn one-of-a-kind luxury pillows, immediately had us both intrigued and salivating like lunatics because we want ALL THE DRESSMAKER THINGS, people. 

Kelly graciously took a few moments away from creating her stunning, sophisticated pillows in her Pomona studio to divulge what's currently on her nightstand, how we can live a beautiful life with our dogs, and her theory on "trends." Thank you so much, Kelly, for agreeing to be a part of our ongoing SHAPERS profiles featuring extraordinary doers and makers ! We dig you and all your gorgeous textile ingenuity.

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Were you the kid always stitching up awesome outfits for yourself and your friends? How did you transition from clothing to home decor/pillows? Do you feel there's a comprehensive overlap of these two types of couture craftsmanship?

I did start altering my clothing from an early age, I think out of a need to create and self-express.  The cushion project came about out of necessity (as most things do).  I made some velveteen cushions for my living room, and thought, I like these, maybe someone else would like these, too.  Also the idea of being able to experiment with textiles, without the limitations that come with clothing (wearable colors, sizes, etc)…is very appealing.  Craft, quality and integrity of design are profoundly important to me.  Making things one at a time, slowly and thoughtfully.   Designing and making things has always been therapeutic for me.  It doesn't really matter what it is; a dress, a room, a meal, a garden.  I have this irritating habit of redesigning (in my head, of course) the front yards of the houses that I drive past in my neighborhood.  


       Just a coupla' cute old ladies from Los Angeles' animal shelters, enjoying their best lives. 

       Just a coupla' cute old ladies from Los Angeles' animal shelters, enjoying their best lives. 


As a dog momma, what's your advice to people who feel like they "can't have nice things" because they have a dog?  

Adopt adult dogs, and set boundaries.  Never give a new dog the run of the house, let them earn their privileges  Dogs are smart, they’ll get it quickly if it’s presented clearly.  

Also, being somewhat flexible (about everything, really) is helpful.  Don’t get upset if someone vomits on the rug, or sneezes on a freshly painted wall, just deal with it and move on.

                                                                 It's a beautiful life. 

                                                                 It's a beautiful life. 


Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Night owl but I've had to adapt.  My husband makes breakfast for the dogs.  It’s best (for everyone!) if no one tries to communicate anything important to me before 8am. 


What's on your bedside table right now?

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea and the Deep Origins of Consciousness, by Peter Godfrey-Smith, Being a Beast: Adventures Across the Species Divide, by Charles Foster, and The Developing Genome by David S. Moore.  I am fortunate that my husband  brings home a stream of fascinating books.


Name your three favorite textile colors. 

I favor cool, moody colors, my working colors could be considered a “bruise” palette: combinations of weird greens, chartreuse, blue violet, greys from dove to charcoal, and of course black.

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Do you foresee any particular, imminent trends in the home decor industry? 

I go out of my way to avoid trends. Even the word “trend” bothers me, and don’t even get me started on “trending”.  I am happiest when the things that I like (Victorian, Spanish Revival) are not in style and I can find them easily and marked-down in the antique shops.  The same goes for designing clothing.  Ideas will naturally evolve from season to season.  Try to incorporate trends and you will quickly lose your way and your own vision.


MORE KELLY SCOOP: I am from Los Angeles.  My husband and I moved from Mid-city LA to a historic home in Pomona, Ca a few years ago to be closer to his professor job at Pitzer College in Claremont. I went to art school and am mostly self-taught as far as clothing design.  I have been designing, manufacturing, and selling wholesale to specialty boutiques and better department stores for 25 years – mostly women's clothing, and mostly for my own label.  My current label for clothing is Volunteer, although lately I have been focusing more on the cushions, and working on restoring/furnishing/painting our old house.  My 98 year old mother also lives with us.   I have been involved with animal rescue in LA for the past 15 years and we have two seniors, Vida (from East Valley Shelter) and Clara (Inland Valley Humane Society).  My girls share my workspace. They are sweet and hilarious and good at reminding me daily about what is actually important.


*Lily Spindle's SHAPERS profiles the people whom we consider to be remarkable movers and shakers, doers and dreamers, trailblazers and big thinkers, the people who are doing things a little bit differently and unconventionally, with immense heart, passion, and authenticity. Artists, designers, writers, philanthropists, iconoclasts, artisans, heroines, voyagers, and all kinds of extraordinary extraordinaires will be interviewed in our SHAPERS series.

The Power of the Pillow

Ferm Living's Kelim Cushions; $100+up; available at Lawson Fenning. (image source: Domino)  

Ferm Living's Kelim Cushions; $100+up; available at Lawson Fenning. (image source: Domino)
 

Pillows are powerful - good ones can make your space pretty damn spectacular; bad ones can create a real downer of a room. For that matter, even a boatload of superfluous pillows piled onto a sofa can make your space look disorganized and somewhat junky and, hey, if you've gotta move pillows from one piece of furniture onto another just to be able to sit your butt down, you've got too many pillows. And that's much too much of a good thing.

Deb and I find we're shopping for pillows several times a week, as throw pillows are entirely unique to each space we see and there are zillions of options out there in the world. In our exhaustive and entertaining adventures in pillows, we've learned a thing or two. Here are a few Lily Spindle tips:

#1 - Whatever size the pillow cover is, go one or two sizes up with regards to the insert (i.e. a 20"x20" pillow would call for a 22"x22" insert). Unless you happen to love a flaccid pillow and abhor a plush, fulsome pillow, of course. And in that case, entirely ignore this wisdom..

#2 - If the sofa is leather and slopes backwards at all, try to find pillows that can (literally) stand on their own, like a thick Kilim or cowhide pillow. A slippery silk or velvet pillow typically slides onto its back like a helpless turtle when placed against leather upholstery, which may sound kind of adorable but it looks kind of terrible. Trust me.

#3 - Mix your patterns and textures, but do so with discretion to avoid looking like a lunatic. For instance, if you're using a bold pattern in bright primary colors in one or two pillows, the others should be relatively neutral - quiet patterns or one particular background color with a single stripe or detail that complements the whole lot of them.

In general, pillows should require zero assistance and effort once you've got the right ones dialed in. Their job is to hang out and be awesome. We've gathered up a few of our favorites right here, from the divine to the darling. Have at it!

xx - Rebecca

   Mid-20th century Indonesian silk Ikat pillow, $330; 1stdibs.

 

Mid-20th century Indonesian silk Ikat pillow, $330; 1stdibs.

Aviva Stanoff Purple Stain Velvet Pillow; $275+up; abchome.com

Aviva Stanoff Purple Stain Velvet Pillow; $275+up; abchome.com

Stone Textile Studio's Tuxedo Pillow; $215

Stone Textile Studio's Tuxedo Pillow; $215

Vintage Moroccan pillow; $450; Habibi Imports.

Vintage Moroccan pillow; $450; Habibi Imports.

Mud cloth pillows; $110-$140; Etsy

Mud cloth pillows; $110-$140; Etsy

Donna Wilson wool pillows - Badger, Pup, Elk, and Kitty; $140/each

Donna Wilson wool pillows - Badger, Pup, Elk, and Kitty; $140/each

Dark Indigo, $200+, House of Cindy

Dark Indigo, $200+, House of Cindy

Malibu pillow (made of vintage Mexican Serape); $230; House of Cindy

Malibu pillow (made of vintage Mexican Serape); $230; House of Cindy