We are big fans of Kristen Fegale Interiors because their work resonates with all the things we love - natural, holistic spaces to live in, yet never lacking in any way. For Kristen, this translates into soothing palettes and thoughtful moments. Grab a cup of tea and enjoy our Q/A with Kristen herself.
This story is part of our Designing for Well-being series.
Tell us about your design practice and philosophy... what makes it different from any other design studio?
I started Kristen Fegale Interiors because I felt my aesthetic was different from most designers in Dallas. It is influenced by an indoor/outdoor lifestyle, spaces that feel connected to the earth and are pleasing to live in. I enjoy soothing, calming palettes that lend to a peaceful retreat. I also love small details that make furnishings/textiles unique and I think this is a common theme among the rooms we design.
Your work incorporates a lot of natural materials and subtle textures. Tell us about what draws you to them.
I love texture. It's important to vary the textures used in a space to create interest. Many natural materials like sisal, chunky wool knits, wicker, leather and cane add interesting textures to spaces. Printed patterns can also add texture to a space, but it's important to make sure the scale of the patterns differs enough so they work together. I love a great print, but I'm always mindful of the possible art used in a room because rooms can be more about the art or some other focal point ...or they can be more about a great printed fabric or wallcovering if the art is calm.
Yes. You come in contact with fabrics on a daily basis; you want them to feel good and comfort you. We are finding our homes are our sanctuaries, and that's true now more than ever.
What do you love about natural, sustainable textiles. How would you compare them to synthetic textiles?
I love that natural textiles are environmentally friendly. I can feel good about specifying products that were made sustainably and will biodegrade. For instance, you can't get much better than a great wool rug. Wool has natural lanolin to wick away stains and it's soft, making it a great choice for carpets in every home.
I love KUFRI's ready-made pillows. You make it so easy to order some for an upcoming install and have them readily available. I also love upholstered beds, and KUFRI's textiles are a great choice for this application. My personal favorite is Cusco Stripe in all its colorways- I love the texture of the stripes. I adore all of the new block-printed patterns.
Looking beyond design, what else do you do to create a holistic life and home?
I think having a lot of natural light in a home is important and finding ways to tie the indoors to the outdoors. I also use indoor plants, many of which help clean the air but they also help with sound absorption and they are beautiful to look at, creating an atmosphere of well-being.
My main holistic practice in life is to stay positive. Especially during our current world state of uncertainty (COVID-19), we can't let fear and anxiety get the better of us. We have to find joy and peace in the places we can. In the end, I hope this global pandemic reminds us not to take life for granted and creates more empathy in all of us.
I had the pleasure of meeting Purva Chawla, Founder and Partner at Material Driven, a vast library of innovative, sustainable materials from cutting edge brands. Adele Orcajada, also a Partner, operates from London, while Purva recently made Dallas her homebase. Let's take a look at how they bridge the gap between designer and maker.
This feature is part of our Designing for Well-being series.
Tell us when Material Driven was formed and the premise behind it.
Material Driven came to life in 2016. At that time our intention was to broadcast the innovation that was taking place with materials and their making. We were showcasing designers and manufacturers around the world, particularly in Europe then, who were inventing unique products and processes used in interiors and architecture.
After Adele and I joined forces in London, our services expanded. Now we also provide consultancy and design services to our clients, helping them choose better sustainable materials.
What services do you provide to the Trade?
We provide consultancy work to designers, architects and clients in the Trade. Our consultancy revolves around Material Research, Market Intelligence, Material Sourcing, Supplier Introductions, Trends Insights and Product Development. We also work with them to create material-focused installations like our recent work for the AC Hotel by Marriott in Washington DC (image below).
Walk us through how a designer or architect would work with you…
Designers and architects come to us in two ways --The first is when they are broadly seeking inspiration and innovation for their projects, or trying to make material choices that are more natural or healthy. The second is when they have a very specific brief and are looking for a direct solution.
Let's say a designer comes to us looking for sources for a hotel lobby installation, we offer them up to 30 new and untapped sources that would fit the bill. It could be an install that needs acoustical panels to absorb sound or it could be purely visual. We understand their needs and present samples accordingly. We provide pricing, lead times, limitations, end of life information and more. Eventually, this leads to a final set of materials which they can start to roll out in their projects, and we introduce them to the manufacturers or makers of these materials.
If the designer has a very specific brief or need, we offer them a short list of contenders, samples and all necessary information. Once the designer has made some choices, we conduct introductions between designer and maker.
Finally, as we are a team of designers ourselves, some clients bring us onboard to take projects from concept to delivery. So whether it is art installations, or standalone products or elements of interior architecture, we help the architect, designer or developer conceptualize it with innovative materials, and then take responsibility for the build, installation and delivery as well.
You have locations in London and Dallas... how are the two audiences different? What opportunities do you see in Dallas in terms of educating designers and the materials you can connect them with?
The most obvious difference between both audiences is how much or how little materials are being talked about. In London, we are one of 5-6 agencies who specialize in materials consulting, and everyone, from universities, to brands, to large architectural firms, and trade shows constantly has their eye on the subject and is talking about it. This is not the case in Dallas yet.
The other, interesting shift I noticed during my years in London was how architectural and interior design studios, among other clientele, started to first and foremost view materials from a problem-solving lens, rather than aesthetic and budget factors. Materials are chosen to mitigate challenges such as pollution, waste, resource scarcity, health and well-being. In Dallas it's more about synthetic materials because the focus is primarily on aesthetic. But that presents an opportunity for us to start having larger conversations and educating designers here.
The other clear opportunity in Dallas is just how many incredible firms are based and headquartered here, so it's just a matter of getting their attention and aiding them in material choices and outcomes.
What materials/brands are you most excited about these days?
Ah, so many! I’ll have to limit myself to three:
1. LivingCap -- They have a collection called Mixcycling, made with organic waste, but so ripe for use in packaging and product design space, and at massive scale.
2. Foresso is a Timber Terrazzo material, made with wood and plaster waste, among other recycled content. It's great for interior architecture and flooring. The narrative and environmental footprint from this material is a big win.
3. Giles Miller Studio creates highly sensory bespoke surfaces and sculptures using a growing palette of ceramic, metallic, wood and stone-based material modules.
Material Driven can be reached here.
Over the next few months, I will be sharing my passion for the Natural Home, where interior design is approached holistically for optimum well-being, and products are chosen responsibly. This series will feature Q/A with experts, profile vendors we believe in, and of course, provide artful inspiration. Enjoy and stay safe!
A renowned design firm in L.A. recently told me that clients on the West coast are hiring environmental consultants to work closely with the interior designer and architect because they want their homes to be natural, responsible spaces. What does this mean? Why is it important? How are natural fibers better?
Sourced from nature, historically
Natural fibers come from plants (cotton, hemp, flax, jute etc) or animals (wool, alpaca, silk, etc). Since the dawn of civilization, cloth, rope and twine have been made from some of these very sources.
We get our natural fibers from small farms and co-ops, providing sustenance to many farming families.
Better for your health
A friend of mine who has auto-immune disease said since her diagnosis, she has changed her diet, her skincare products, supplements, her wardrobe and even the upholstery in her home. Natural fibers "breathe" and are better for those with sensitive skin.
Our fabrics are all natural fibers using cotton, linen, silk, hemp and jute. At this time, we have one fabric (Sahara) which has a metallic Lurex thread.
Did you know acrylic has been linked to cancer by the , polyester, rayon, nylon, spandex etc are made by a process called polymerization? Polymerization is a process where chemical fibers are joined together to create the fabric. It takes numerous highly toxic chemicals to create these fabrics. These synthetic fabrics are essentially plastic.
Our fabrics only use natural fibers and many can be washed in your daily cycle. The dyes we use are certified OEKO-TEX and azo-free.
End of life
A big topic in textiles is "end of life." Basically, is it biodegradable? How long will the fabric take to decompose? When cut into smaller pieces, cotton takes around 5 months to decompose. Linen a few weeks. What about acrylic? 20-200 years! Click here to see how long various fabrics take.
Our fabrics are 100% biodegradable.
A holistic approach
The Natural Home has a certain vibrational quality that's humming with good chi. That good energy is created from various things - good flow and placement of objects (feng shui), bringing nature indoors to create a feeling of well-being (biophilia), using natural non-toxic materials for furnishings and surfaces. Natural fibers fits this holistic approach of designing a home for well-being.
We pride ourselves on creating beautiful textures with natural fibers and we hope you bring them into your and your client's homes... upholster with them, use them for drapery, entertain with our table linens, snuggle with our pillows. Surround yourself with our textiles and you'll see why we are committed to the natural way of life.
The idea behind the Tesuque (pronounced teh-su-keh) collection began a few years ago over many trips to my spirit place, New Mexico. Each time I would go, I would gather books, art, images and ideas, which turned into sketches, which then turned into loose patterns.
The whole collection is meant to feel imperfect and earthy, just like the raw landscapes and beauty of New Mexico. The ground cloth, linen, for the collection is specifically handwoven by our weavers to give it texture. Then patterns got hand-carved into woodblocks, which then got handprinted onto the handwoven linen.