One peek inside the downtown Manhattan home of designer Suysel dePedro Cunningham, cofounder of pattern-happy firm Tilton Fenwick, and it's easy to see why, in 2011, the newly launched online magazine Trad Home lauded them as "New Traditionalists" worth following. The space, swathed in custom-designed florals and stripes, perfectly encapsulates that aesthetic—after all, there's nothing more "new traditional" than the fact that this figurative cornucopia of frothy pattern is, in fact, what they did to an industrial NYC loft. "There are a lot of younger consumers who really appreciate a lot of the history," dePedro Cunningham says. "They may have loved their grandmother's wallpaper, but don't want their apartments to look like their grandmother's."
Three years ago it was Duralee that sponsored Trad Home's "Top 20 Up-and-Coming New Traditionalists," and the fabrics firm, tipped off to Tilton Fenwick's aesthetic, was impressed. Eventually a collaboration took shape: Duralee tapped dePedro Cunningham and her Tilton Fenwick cofounder, Anne Maxwell Foster, for a collection of custom fabrics. Considering the pair had already made a name for themselves for their ability to interlock patterns ("We always say we like to find hidden harmonies," dePedro Cunningham says), the duo got to work identifying the fabrics that would be most versatile and usable for designers like them: a collection that's "classically trained, but with a fun, more colorful twist." Now those textiles are on full display in dePedro Cunningham's own Manhattan bedroom, which is featured in the newest issue of Traditional Home (Trad Home's older, more established print cousin).
As the foundation for her apartment, dePedro Cunningham used the bold "Rocat" pattern, their first design, named for the Hotel Cap Rocat in Majorca, Spain, where she and Maxwell Foster recently traveled. While most clearly seen in the headboard and bench (↑), the three-inch pineapple-skin stripe also borders the bed skirt and overhead bed hangings. "We were very cognizant of how designers use fabric," dePedro Cunningham says. "And [Rocat] is the perfect example of what we wanted to provide from a usability standpoint. It's very practical for decorators to play around with."
But not every fabric could be as chunky as Rocat—mixing prints relies on a variety in scale. Tilton Fenwick's collection for Duralee includes small all-over prints (like "Haute," above, at top-right), stripes (like "Quintessence," above, at bottom-left), chintz, and paisley. Some are embroidered, some are printed. Each pattern has three-to-five "color ways," as they say in design-speak, so for 36 patterns, there's a total of 158 different fabrics. "We like to layer so many fabrics on top of each other in the room, [the variety] was very important to us."
As for dePedro Cunningham's favorite fabric? "Oh my god that's like picking your favorite child."
Still, if she had to choose, Zulla (↓) would be a top contender. It's another loud fabric, much like Rocat, but with a "more ethnic-y, Moroccan-y" vibe. "I went with Rocat for my room, but this is another we would start a scheme off with," she says.
Now that the fabric project has, uh, wrapped (after a year and a half!) dePedro Cunningham and Maxwell Foster are unsure what their next major undertaking will be, though the self-described "wallpaper girls" would love to, well, design just that. "That would be our dream, but it's not in the works yet," DePedro Cunningham says. For now, they'll gladly make do paper-backing the dozens of custom pieces (like the Armstrong stripe used on the walls here) they've already churned out. More information on dePedro Cunningham and Maxwell Foster's work, head this way.