Words Catherine Whitting
Photography Marian Riabic
My mother Barbara, former adult educator in grooming and deportment, national training and development manager and now Nanna extraordinaire to five grandchildren adores anything in a soft serene skin-deep blush tone. Kate St James my business partner, interior designer, fellow artist, and editor of all things design adores vivid pops of purposeful pink and Mary Brown, lectured sessionaly in the Fashion and Textile Department of UTS, currently a tutor at the Embroiderers Guild NSW, author, design education mentor and my high school art teacher, frolics daily in fabulous fuchsia. With childhood memories of far too many pink ballet outfits and 1980s pretty in pink ruffles paired with a blushing and often ruddy complexion, I have never embraced pink as a palette of choice for artmaking or design until I decided to create a work in honour of these three pillars of influence in my life.
So with a common theme of the humble flower – The Oriental Tiger Lily – I began an abstract artwork in gouache and watercolour that frolicked in fabulous fuchsia and deep magenta with fiery red tones, calmed with a constant reliable undertone of beige and blush. The result was an abstract artwork that when translated into wool collaboratively with Kate St James editor’s eye, formed a life of its own. When Kate and I translated this abstract artwork into a textile design for Designer Rugs we discovered that Tiger Lily embodies femininity and strength in a whirlwind of colour and texture. Tiger Lily translated into a floor rug created a twist on tradition, as shimmery bamboo highlights in rose madder juxtaposed next to firm woollen skin-deep blush tones and warm whites. The result, an ageless palette that can enhance and enliven traditional or personal styles. Perfect for universal design solutions in a little girl’s room from the age of 2 – 82!
“Primarily I chose this rug because I love organic and camouflage patterns.” Said Mary Brown. “We have Vitra’s Eames chairs around our dining room table, and these are organic in form, so I made that rather lovely connection immediately. Then there was the colour palette of this rug that almost gave me a Stendahl episode! The pink and the white were going to work beautifully in the dining room but there were colours that had to be taken away for it to be a perfect fit in that room. Catherine and I went to Designer Rugs, who makes the Elementals Collection by St James Whitting, and together we chose the ‘replacement’ colours, which are different from the original design and can be coloured to suit individual schemes. I carried the colours of the paintings in our dining room in my head to be used with the original pink and white in the rug. We arrived at a dynamic colour palette that relates to the dining room paintings as well as the tub chairs in the living/library room. This St James Whitting rug is precious to me because it was designed by Catherine and it provides me with a visual feast every day. I will never tire of that sensation.” Mary Brown June 2020
The St James Whitting rug collection can be altered and customised to suit clients existing colour palettes. Mary Brown fell in love with the shimmery fuchsia when she saw Tiger Lily hung at the entrance to Meandering, a collaborative art exhibition by St James Whitting at Gang Gang Art Gallery in Lithgow 2018. However, the lilacs were not part of her existing interior. Mary needed to link her decorative flooring solution that was to sit under her timber dining table, to her curated art collection that featured multiple tones of warm cognac, caramel, and ochre. A visit with the designer team to Designer Rugs showroom Leichardt enabled Mary to see the wool tufts first-hand and colour match the caramel and ochre and add the exact tone of silver grey of her newly laid carpet. This customisation created a warm and contemporary unique design, “Tiger Lily Cognac”.