Louise Gray, a Minneapolis-based homeware brand, is seeking to reinvigorate quilting with motifs designed to complement modern interiors. Co-founder Alexandra Gray Bennett invoked an old family name to bring new life to a traditional American art form. Noting that quilts are often executed in “overpowering” ways, Bennett partnered with graphic designer Jocelin Johnson to create a line that takes its cues from contemporary art. Each of the brand’s six debut designs are even numbered, as art plates.
The quilts’ original designs draw from the traditions of abstract and minimalist art. “Editing is the most, most important thing,” says Johnson, the brand’s Creative Director who worked to achieve a refined balance in each of the designs. Softer more feminine colors are met with bold, angular lines while abstract imagery is realized with attention to detail and restraint. The quilts embody both an aesthetic and functional balance. They can be used to bring warmth to a space or hung as artwork to absorb sound. As Johnson points out, a minimalist aesthetic demands precision: “Simple has to be done well.”
Intent on manufacturing locally, Bennett and Johnson discovered that the cut and sew industry in America has largely moved abroad. There are few domestic workrooms capable of executing at scale, in what was once a pervasive American art form. Thus, the quilts are machine sewn, but hand-guided. Cotton is pieced together to form the design. The front and back are then stitched with a layer of cotton batting between, giving the quilt its loft. To date, manufacturing exclusively in the US has proven to be both the brand’s greatest challenge and greatest reward. Bennett shares, “We’re so much prouder, contributing to the sustainability of our community.”
It isn’t just Louise Gray’s products, but also the brand’s packaging and custom acrylic mounts designed to exhibit the quilts, which are fabricated domestically. Bennett and Johnson are intent on working locally and creating for those who value thoughtful, functional design. As Bennett, inspired by her own family’s traditions notes, “Quilts are intended to be heirlooms.” With that, the team behind Louise Gray designs for the customer who wants to acquire fewer, more treasured, possessions.
Beginning Monday, 16 March 2015, all designs—which range from $395 to $425—will be available online.
Images courtesy of Louise Gray