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Anatomy Of A Design: Kathryn Hunt Launches Her Inaugural “Playa de Lago” Collection

Kathryn Hunt joins us this week to discuss the design process behind her new Playa de Lago collection of wallcoverings. Pulling inspiration from a trip to Spain years ago, the collection of 13 patterns fit into the modern-traditionalist style that Hunt achieves in her own interior design work.

Take a look at Playa de Lago below, and see how the project came together from concept to completion.

Raymond Paul Schneider: When did you first start to develop this new collection?
Kathryn Hunt: I started painting some of these patterns as far back as 2015 but I didn’t start any product development until Spring of 2020. From an initial 60 patterns, we narrowed it down to this inaugural collection “Playa de Lago” comprised of 13 patterns.

RPS: What was the overall timeline from conception to achieving the final design?
KH: Painting the original artworks can take anywhere from minutes to weeks to complete depending on how in tune I am with it at the time. Once we have the artwork, it takes several months for a pattern to be ready for sale. We need to create print ready files, strike-offs, etc. and there’s always some back and forth to get in ready to market. All in all, this collection took 20 months from start of development. 

RPS: What was your initial inspiration, and where did the idea(s) come from?
KH: My inspirations come from all over. I travel often and I spend a lot of time outdoors. Nature and architecture are two favorite inspirations. I love textiles and specifically hand-blocked prints. The name of this collection came from a trip to Spain on my Honeymoon in 2016. We were walking along a tiny beach called Playa de Lago on the north coast of Spain near the border of France. You would miss it if you didn’t know it was there. I was collecting the most beautiful beach glass I had ever seen (a New England pastime!). At the time I had been painting purposely for about a year and I remember this feeling that came over me – “I need to convert them to textiles”. Of course, life happens. My interior design business was busy, I had my son, and although I kept painting, I didn’t think about the concept of the textiles again until all of our projects came to a halt during the COVID shutdowns in spring of 2020. I finally had time to look at the patterns all at once and I ended up starting research on the development phase. Around this same time, my family had discovered a painting journal in the home of my Great Grandmother which documented her techniques while she taught herself to paint. Many of her patterns and repetitions looked similar to the paintings I had been creating. It was the first time I had seen these journals and I took it as another sign that I should pursue this dream. 

RPS: Please describe your overall creative and design process.
KH: I usually conceptualize the patterns before I sit down to paint, often they just come to me in a vision or a dream as many of them happen at night. As a full-time Designer and a mom, my painting only happens when my schedule allows — mostly in the wee hours after the kids go to bed or very early in the morning. Most people go to the gym, but I will sit down and paint! The initial patterns I commit to paper might not be the final design. I keep refining the concept before settling on something that makes me happy. Some are awful…but some are truly wonderful. The actual painted patterns are small. Not much larger than an 8 x 10 paper. 

RPS: Did you have a specific audience or theme that you had in mind?
KH: I don’t think there was a theme. I work with a lot of geometrics and florals and so that’s where I landed with this collection. I love block prints and textural layering, but I also love clean white Scandinavian rooms with pops of color. The collection landed in the Modern Traditionalist style that I work towards in my design projects so essentially, I am my ideal customer: a designer or client with a young family. I think the collection has a broad range of style applications. 

RPS: Please describe the methods, tools, and materials you used to develop and prototype this design?
KH: This initial collection started all as watercolor on paper. I also carve print blocks, but I am saving that technique for the second collection. After I like the pattern, I work with a graphic artist to digitize the pattern and then a printer to scale them appropriately.  

RPS: Please describe any challenges that affected the design and perhaps steered you to an entirely new final design?
KH: Seeing the first strike-offs helped me to get creative with the colors and paper ground combinations. I’d like to explore more use with color. The good news is that all of the patterns can be customized for color or ground choice, and we will create a strike-off before production so we are able to find a solution to that challenge.

RPS: Describe your overall brand DNA and Ethos
KH: We design for families with balance and individuality at the heart and that goes for the product range as well. Our mission is to produce products that our clients will love forever, are great quality, made with sustainable materials, and created locally.

Click here to see more of our “Anatomy of a Design” series.

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