For these designers, inspiration can come from a walk around the block or a country miles away. We look at three local artists who are creating fresh fabrics.
Meredith Grabham inherited her artistic genes from a family of musicians, painters, fashion designers, and sculptors. “My granddad was even trying to invent a roller skate,” Grabham says. “They made being creative accessible and okay: ‘You can try it, come paint, and if it’s not good, fine.’”
Grabham’s willingness to experiment has led to a wallpaper line featuring metallics and glass beads and a new leather line “with faux leather for animal lovers,” she says. She also sells customizable fabrics, pillows, and tabletop linens including cocktail napkins she can’t seem to keep in stock. “I don’t ever want my things to look like anyone else’s, so I’m always looking for that inspiration of people just doing their own thing,” she says. Grabham, who traveled and studied as a student of the Allbritton Art Institute, says she tries to see one thing she hasn’t seen before every day. “What I love probably more than anything is travel and going to places that have different cultures,” she says. “I love snapping pictures of random things that don’t really mean anything to anyone.” Available at Laura Lee Clark. meredithgrabham.com
Mili Suleman’s fabrics are handloom-woven in India by men and women working in village co-ops. Suleman’s Dallas-based business, Kufri, allows her to help preserve what she fears is a dying art by employing those in her country of origin who can pass on traditional skills. “When I work with textiles, it’s so much more than that,” she says. “Creating the product is a part of it, but it’s really going back to my country of birth—it’s connecting with people there.”
Creating her fabrics requires many hands to dye, loom, and weave. “So just with one textile, I’m providing for the whole family,” she says.
Following the Japanese principle of shibui, she creates beautiful fabrics from simple, raw materials. “I want [my fabric] to bring out the raw environment of where it’s made,” she says. “It brings out the true nature of the fabric.”
Originally from Mumbai, Suleman grew up in Oman, where she says there weren’t many opportunities for young entrepreneurs. “I think my immigrant story—coming here and dreaming up this business—is a deep story on many levels,” the Texas Christian University graduate says. “I’m almost sort of creating my life story with my life work.” kufrilifefabrics.com
Megan Adams Brooks
Megan Adams Brooks diminutively calls her animal prints, botanicals, and ethnic and natural textures “mark makings.” “My creative process is very sporadic,” Brooks says. “I draw inspiration from photographs and sketches from trips or sometimes just a walk outside.” But her patterns—scanned and manipulated from hand-drawn sketches—are painstakingly crafted to look handmade. “My process is not luxurious at all,” she says.
The Dallas native honed her precise eye studying painting and drawing at Southern Methodist University and earned a Master of Fine Arts at the University of North Texas. A budding fashion designer, she turned to textiles after becoming disenchanted with the trends of the fashion world during a summer at Parson’s School of Design in New York. “I could not find any patterned fabrics that I liked,” she says.
Finding fabric gave Brooks—an expert in silk painting, printmaking, and fiber techniques—the chance to flex her artistic skills in a more purposeful way. “I just have always wanted to do my take on certain things that I’m surrounded by—to be able to create the raw material and let people create different uses for it,” she says. “I design something, but then someone else plays a part in it, too. I love seeing what people come up with.” Available at Laura Lee Clark and Blue Print. meganadamsbrooks.com