For the recently released aspire design and home magazine we chatted with celebrated designer Mark Cunningham and renowned quilter Denyse Schmidt about how quilts lend a welcome dash of artistic color, pattern and texture to any space. See the conversation below, and take a look at some of Mark and Denyse’s favorite quilts.
Gwen Donovan: How are you familiar with each other’s work?
Mark Cunningham: We met at a New York City design fair, and I was drawn to Denyse’s quilts immediately. I’ve been using her quilts for a number of years; she is always my first go-to, based on her patterns and the quality of her work.
Denyse Schmidt: Mark has reached out many times over the years to propose my work for client projects; I’m always thrilled when all the stars align and we are able to work together. I knew my quilts would be compatible with Mark’s warm, textured, livable designs.
GD: What are your favorite ways to display quilts?
MC: Folded on a sofa or a daybed, or hanging as art — quilts are very flexible, depending upon where you need a graphic pattern or color. Quilts are both functional and artful, and lend another dimension to a room. I used one of Denyse’s quilts to upholster a large ottoman, and I’m working on a place in Upstate New York, where we’re hanging a quilt on the wall.
DS: I design all my quilts to be used on a bed, and that’s still my favorite way to display them, but a smaller throw-size looks great draped over a sofa as Mark used mine in the showhouse. When hanging a quilt on the wall, I like a simple, invisible system that allows the quilt to hang about an inch from the wall.
GD: Are you drawn to certain quilt patterns or designs?
MC: I like the graphic quality, the craftsmanship and the detail of quilts. The antique and contemporary quilts here all show the graphic quality I am drawn to. Bold shapes and bold colors combined with visible stitching tell a story about the craftsmanship.
DS: I tend to love the more minimal designs – they are deceptively harder to execute – and I love how they juxtapose a sense of the past with a modern aesthetic.
Log Cabin Streak of Lightning
“Streak of Lightning” – “The strong graphic pattern here with bold yellow across a strong blue feels very modern to me, but how interesting to know it is from the 1920s.” – Mark Cunningham
“Available in any color combination you can think of! I originally designed this quilt for a project for the Philip Johnson Glass House, and it is inspired by the library shelves in the guest house there.” – Denyse Schmidt
“When we planned the scheme and colors for the Galerie HOUSE OF ART & DESIGN living room, we shared them with Denyse, and it was kismet that she was experimenting with her large-format stitching techniques. She played around with patterns, and this just worked perfectly; the vivid yellow pattern was just what we needed.” – Mark Cunningham
“I love how modern and organic this design feels.” – Denyse Schmidt
Jean, Cotton and Linen Patchwork
“This ‘Jean’ quilt [by Meg Callahan] looks more like a painting than a blanket. I love the workmanship and detail.” – Mark Cunningham
Sonic Blue Deep Blue
“This is one of a series I created with dead-stock vintage fabric details, purchased from one of those venerable local fabric shops before they closed their doors. I designed the series to get the most mileage from prints and set them in color-block grounds.” – Denyse Schmidt
Anchor of the Soul from Schmidt’s Mount Lebanon Series
“The tonal and textural quality in this design is really impactful; it’s quietly elegant but also unforgettable.” – Mark Cunningham
Streak of Lightning
“Another traditional design. I love it in this ‘John Deere’ coloring, featuring my Five + Ten fabrics.” – Denyse Schmidt
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