Design Works Prints From Tillett Textiles are Back


Mr. McBride’s way of telling the tale now is to reintroduce the fabrics from the collaboration of Tillett and Design Works, with a portion of the profits to be donated to the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club. Four patterns in three colorways have recently become available to the trade. Tote bags, throw pillows and face masks in the patterns may be ordered through the company Instagram account. “We’ll release other patterns from Design Works gradually,” said Mr. McBride, noting that the fabrics are made of Belgian linen, which is more modern and luxurious than what was available during the 1970s.

“There has been a resurgence of using vibrant, rich colors in interiors,” he said. “People are feeling excited about color. Releasing these fabrics in their original saturated rich, tones is authentic to history and lends itself to what’s going on in the design world today.”

Before it shut down in 1978, Design Works was housed in a five-story building in Bedford-Stuyvesant with a ground-floor boutique. In addition to decorative fabrics, the initiative also produced ready-to-wear fashion, stoneware and jewelry in limited quantities. The textiles, which were distributed by Connaissance Fabrics throughout the country, however, became the prime focus. “It was a vertical operation, we designed, mixed colors, printed and cured the fabric on site, and handled shipping. It was rare for all of that to happen in one location back then,” said Mr. Ortiz, who will bring his own collection to market next spring.

Ms. Onassis incorporated Design Works fabrics into the Fifth Avenue apartment she shared with her husband, Aristotle. The rooms were featured in the November 1971 issue of House Beautiful. In a photo of the library, the sofa is upholstered in Fish Head Plaid, an abstract of crisscross floral and polka dot motifs that strikes a whimsical note among the French antiques, a rare needlepoint rug and 19th century volumes in the floor-to-ceiling bookcases.

Ms. Mariaux also used textiles from Design Works in her Manhattan apartment during the early 1970s. “I loved the patterns. They were pretty dramatic for the time. My favorite was a natural canvas ground-cloth printed with espresso brown cowrie shells,” she said.

“The collection was very well received, not just because people really wanted to support the community of Bedford-Stuyvesant — which they did — but because the fabrics Design Works created were especially unique and beautiful,” Ms. Mariaux said. “It’s nice to know they will be available once again.”


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