Stephanie Housley can do what each of us wishes we could have done as little children: bring our drawings to life. Her crazy creative mix of quirky artwork and embroidery led her to start Coral & Tusk with her husband Chris Lacinak in 2007, and since then she has graced everything from pillows to pocket-sized soft toys with her adorable designs. Now she has designed a new collection of fabrics that make furniture, curtains and more special. We caught up with Stephanie to talk about fabrics, inspiration, and how to be a little bolder with your home decor.
What made you start making fabrics?
It was a really long journey to realize The was my calling! My great grandmother made tattoos, which is kind of chunky point, even after she went blind. My grandmother was very resourceful and we spent a lot of time making dolls out of scrap and socks and everything else. I taught myself to embroider as a small child. Not formal – just freehand and redrawn drawings. I kept doing hand embroidery – I was never without a project.
I went to RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) to study glass. I was always in between to create art and to want something beautiful – form and function – to be safe without having to forego being absolutely useful. I had no idea what the textiles meant material When I came to RISD I thought it was ceramic. Ultimately, I’ve come the long way to what was already in my way, namely designing, developing and creating material. And I never looked back when I had a word for it!
Do you have a favorite from the new line?
I had so much fun designing this new collection – it’s so hard to pick a favorite! The entire collection is inspired by the wind and how wind affects the landscape. The impetus to draw a parallel between wind and embroidery was to return to the act of embroidery – how actually making a stitch on fabric affects the overall flow and movement when the shapes, tones, and colors of a fabric are present as a whole .
I usually focus on illustration – a specific theme that is brought to life with embroidery. The Winds Collection was more about the relationship between the stitches and the floor and less about the design of the embroidery motif. The approach was brand new to us and it’s been a wonderful exploration that I’m looking forward to!
Do you have favorite pieces with fabrics?
We have big plans to use the new fabrics for frames – everything from sofas to chairs to tents! We haven’t found the right pairing yet, but it’s in the works. Of the parts we upholstered, I really love one technical part. Our feather sofa uses our Feathers Border fabric along the back and I love the way it fills the shape.
What inspires your work?
My inspiration comes from everywhere, but mostly from animals, travel, nature and emotions. It may sound silly, but I love love. I’m lucky enough to feel constantly inspired and so excited to do the next one. Every day brings so much magic and I feel so blessed and happy to be in this rare and amazing place in life – and that is tremendously inspiring!
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel a lot in my life and I make traveling a priority all year round. Whether I’m going to Paris, Cappadoccia, India, Hawaii, Wyoming, Nepal, Big Sur, or Tennessee, every trip feels new, and as a result, I can design something that feels new. When you are not in your element, you see things differently. You don’t take things you do at home for granted – the shape of the doors, the color of the trucks, the sounds of the streets, colors and design elements added to a variety of surfaces. With all your senses sharpened, you will become much more receptive to inspiration. I try to channel and express this during my design process.
Do you have any advice on integrating color and pattern into your home?
I always think when you think about it, do it! It is your home so you are automatically aligned to make and consider long term decisions and implications.
I don’t have a formula, theory, or approach. When designing our new fabric collection, I certainly considered the size of each design within a color story and how they work together in a room. In each color palette, we recommend Ridgeline for the body scarf, Riverbed for a bespoke simple accent chair, Sidewinder for a curtain and Sweetgrass for your decorative pillows and accents in the room.
Sofa with embroidered feathers border yardage
Photo by Kate Lacey
Chairs and curtains with Pinnacle Quartz Onyx and Partridge Eye Onyx Yardage
Selection of Fuchsia Yardage
Selection of flower and cat yardage
Coral & Tusk founder Stephanie Housley