As long time lovers of venerable textile house, Schumacher (who isn't?!), we've thoroughly enjoyed watching Dara Caponigro work her magic since taking the helm as Creative Director last September. Turning tradition on its head, Schumacher is shaking things up big time - including going bold from a design standpoint and launching a brand spankin' new collection each and every month. Leading this charge from a design development & production standpoint is Pam Marshall. Y'all are going to enjoy her enthusiastic responses as much as we did, we're quite certain!
C&K // Tell us about your role at Schumacher.
PM // As Director of Design, I lead the Schumacher studio in the development and production of our entire product line. This encompasses all categories: prints, wovens, wallcovering and trims. We begin with a collection concept, which I work on with Dara Caponigro, our Creative Director. Inspiration can come from several vantage points. We collaborate on design ideas, production methods (is it an embroidery? Is it a print?) and choose the ultimate way to realize each design. Once that is set, we begin the process of creating the designs and colorways for each. I initially discuss this with our two amazingly talented senior designers, Hilary Pharr and Allison Block. I definitely do not subscribe to set color palettes, each design has a very unique personality and mood. I strongly believe that the color should fit the design, not the other way around. Seeing color is an emotional experience, and you need to strike the right chord. Once everything has been developed, we do a final edit of the designs and colorways in each collection to check that they have translated in a way that speaks to the Schumacher brand. Anything that is not quite right does not make the cut. All of our designers work across all product types, which is unique. They are an incredibly talented team, each bringing a different view to design and color. We have a very fluid and collaborative way of working, and it is reflected in our product.
C&K // How does what you're doing now differ from how you have worked at Schumacher in the past?
PM // It has been a career highlight to be a part of Schumacher’s recent evolution. In the past, while we still created beautiful products, we approached everything in a very expected, formulaic manner. I suppose that there is a certain amount of safety in routine, but with that comes stagnation. I actually believe this had become an industry wide issue, and is ultimately what signaled the need for someone to lead the change. We are now launching collections monthly, have the most agile, forward thinking design and marketing teams, and are continually addressing trends while they are at their peak of relevance. We are also one of the few companies still creating original artwork in-house, which gives our product a definite edge. It is a challenge for a brand as historic as Schumacher to evolve while staying true to its’ roots. We have achieved that, and we are stronger than ever.
C&K // Tell us about a typical day as Director of Design at Schumacher (if there is even such a thing?!)
PM // No day is typical, but that is what keeps things exciting. One constant is regularly reviewing design and color progress with the studio team, adjusting and trying different options until it is just right. I am always seeking new methods of production to be sure that we are approaching every project in the best possible way, also making sure to take the time to test more innovative ideas to ensure that people keep looking to us as the go-to source for the latest and greatest. Schumacher also collaborates with some very talented and creative designers, and I will meet with them over the course of their collections. I love working on those collaborations, as it brings a special kind of energy to creating product. Finally, there is the business side. I spend time reading sales reports, in pricing meetings, and portfolio strategy meetings. I am extremely interested in this side of the design process, and I think it is important to approach design with a pragmatic lens, keeping focus on a clear understanding of our brand and audience at all times.
C&K // What is your absolutely favorite part of this gig?
PM // All of it! Truly, I would have to say the people. There is a collective passion, energy, and trailblazing spirit that can be felt throughout the company. We are in a market that requires constant evolution in order to stay on top, and the only way to do that is with people that are willing to step outside of their comfort zone to get there.
C&K // What are you most excited about for the future of Schumacher?
PM // We are definitely in a position to capitalize on our steady upward trajectory and growth. I would like to see us continue to innovate and make new discoveries, bringing unique perspectives to design in ways that nobody else can. We have set the bar incredibly high, and intend to raise it. We definitely have some amazing surprises ahead!
C&K // What are your personal 5 favorite textiles from the line? ... and top 3 wallpapers?
PM // It is close to impossible to choose, but here is my short list (for today, at least!):
2. Venetian Silk Velvet. I love a little luxe, and this is it! It evokes the glamour of 1930s Hollywood, has an amazing hand, and looks incredible in every single color.
C&K // How would you describe your personal interior design aesthetic?
PM // My personal interior design aesthetic is fairly eclectic. I like things to feel open, airy and comfortable, but I definitely like a little bit of glamour. My approach is to have some solid basic investments that are constants, and that can evolve with you over time. Also, I don’t subscribe to one specific design style or period. There are too many amazing things out there to limit yourself to a single lane! Things don’t have to match, or be from the same era. Mix high and low. My feeling is that if you truly love the things you choose to live with, they will always work together. The layering of meaningful things over time is what makes your space your home.
C&K // What's your personal faveorite social media platform?
PM // I love Instagram for the fact that it is strictly visual. It attracts such a wide variety of artists and designers at all levels and mediums. It is like getting a glimpse inside their world for a minute, and I am always fascinated to see what drives and inspires people. Of course I love Schumacher’s Instagram. It is a thrill every time I see how our incredibly talented clients use our product once it is out there in the world!
C&K // What are some of your top sources for inspiration?
PM // There are so many sources, and you never know when inspiration might strike. I would say the best inspiration happens when you are not really looking for it, and the reaction to something is more visceral than intellectual. That being said, I am always looking to art and fashion, running the gamut from the couture shows to people on the street. I have a large collection of vintage magazines and old art books, and something new can be found every time I look at them. I also obsess over the unparalleled style of old movies from the 30s and 40s. For more of the moment ideas, I look at Nowness, Cool Hunting, and Moda Operandi.
For more Schumacher goodness, check back next month for our upcoming Proust on Design interview with Dara Caponigro!