Allison Block, Design Director of Travers, joins us to discuss the design process in creating their Style Moderne Trim Collection.
Raymond Paul Schneider: When did you first start to develop this new collection?
Allison Block: The development for Style Moderne, our latest trim collection, began a year and a half ago in the Autumn of 2019. The original launch was initially planned for the following Autumn of 2020. The stages of development were all on schedule and smooth until the pandemic hit. Then, we encountered production delays and the continued delay of the photoshoot, which ultimately led to postponing the collection launch until Spring 2021. Trims are wildly popular for Travers, so I am so thrilled that this collection is finally out in the world!
Raymond: What was the overall timeline from conception to achieving the final design?
Allison: The timeline of this collection from conception to market was much longer than anticipated! We completed all design and color work before the pandemic hit, with production slated to begin just as the lockdowns around the world began, which halted our supply chain.
Raymond: What was your initial inspiration, and where did the idea(s) come from?
Allison: I spent a lot of time reflecting on the fact that we were about to enter a new decade as I began to work on the collection concept, and I wanted to pay homage to the original ‘Roaring Twenties’ and Art Deco era where traditionalism and modernism first intersected. There is a strong focus on glamour and luxury for this collection, celebrating our constant muse, New York City. I took inspiration from the creative innovators of the time; famed jewelry designer Raymond Templier, Donald Deskey, the interior designer of Radio City Music Hall, the great fashion innovators of the era: Alix Barton, Madeline Vionnet, and Valentina Schlee as well as Hollywood legends like Gloria Swanson and Zelda Fitzgerald. In addition, I was inspired by the architecture and design motifs incorporated into the building facades from this time. There was no shortage of inspiration to draw upon!
Raymond: Please describe your overall creative and design process.
Allison: I always try to envision how the trims will be used and always aim to design a balanced collection to satisfy various end uses: the leading edge on a drapery panel, accent trim on pillows, a border along the base of a sofa, etc. I also want to be sure there are a variety of design motifs and materials used. I like to think of trims as the jewelry in a room, that extra bit of sparkle where designers can be a bit bolder in their selections. Since the coverage is minimal, I have the flexibility to think outside the box to design a spectacular small piece of art.
Raymond: Did you have a specific audience or theme that you had in mind?
Allison: For this trim collection, I was focusing on the Travers customer. Still, I also wanted to cast a broader net to layer the designs and colors throughout the entire Zimmer + Rohde brand portfolio. Many items will scheme beautifully across the Zimmer and Ardecora brands. Travers is designed with the US customer in mind, but I really wanted this collection to appeal to our broader global market.
Raymond: Please describe the methods, tools, and materials you used to develop and prototype this design?
Allison: This collection focuses on using rich materials, new technologies, and fine craftsmanship. These practices are infused throughout the collection in various techniques, including elegant beading, dimensional cording, and detailed embroidery. I always like to find ways to add dimension to the trim surface, creating a visual and textural push/pull:
FERRISS has a bold raised geometric labyrinth reminiscent of a metropolis; produced on an 18 head embroidery machine, the raised effect is created by foam placed precisely on top of a lightly stitched outline satin stitch is used to cover the foam completely. The result is an elegant, three-dimensional embroidery.
DESKEY, an elegant wave design, first uses computer embroidery to apply dots to a linen ground. Then beads are hand embroidered, placed one by one in a precise pattern to create a gradual ombre. This tape is a labor of love, and three to four people work together to produce four meters per day.
VALENTINA is a floral embroidered tape with bouclé detail named for the designer and her eponymous couture house. The pattern has a mix of matte and shiny yarns used in a remarkable chain stitch similar to a crewel to make the bouclé flowers.
VIONNET is an intricate fish scale design that plays with light and shadow, mixing appliqued velvet with three shades of embroidery.
ZELDA is a densely covered cord embroidery whose coiled chevron design is made using a unique embroidery stitch called ‘Machine Dori’, where a viscose corded yarn is applied to cotton and linen ground.
Raymond: Please describe any challenges that affected the design and perhaps steered you to an entirely new final design?
Allison: Apart from production delays that were out of our control, the biggest challenge for me to bring this collection to market was not in the actual design development but instead securing the photoshoot. We had planned, schemed, and fabricated the shoot to take place in Richmond, VA, for mid-March 2020, and as we all know, this did not happen! We pushed the photoshoot several times since it was vital for me to be there, and travel was not possible.
Ultimately, I ended up directing the shoot over Zoom. My stylist and photographer were on set and at the second location in Richmond while I was in Ohio. This was a massive challenge for me. I am so intimately connected to the product and had a clear vision for presenting it visually to the world. Letting go and placing trust in others is an integral part of life, and I am so pleased with what we were able to produce relying on technology to feel connected.
Raymond: Describe your overall brand DNA and Ethos
Allison: I would describe the Travers aesthetic as Greenwich Village meets Greenwich, Connecticut, where I consciously target both the urban and suburban. Travers is a traditional print-driven brand that masterfully mixes bold American color palettes with English country-home comfort. It is relaxed yet elegant, focusing on quality and craftsmanship. I like to look to the past with each new collection to influence the future, pulling design inspiration from its rich archive that founder Eldo Netto originally curated.
Click here to see more of our “Anatomy of a Design” series.
Like what you see? Get it first with a subscription to aspire design and home magazine.