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31 Aug

A chat with Lynne Tanner

Posted by Matt Sftd

Lynne is the creative inspiration behind the Social Fabric brand.
To find out what makes her tick we posed a few questions . . . . .


Hi Lynne, what is the driving philosophy behind your designs?

Pattern and shape, they are all around us. I see pattern in almost everything, whether a brick wall, an office building or even a leaf. There is always, in some way patterns in our field of view. In grids, textures and colours. Our world is full of pattern and it's the containment and reproduction of these shapes that interests me.


Do you have a favourite trend or colourway currently?

I don't enjoy trends because, like fads, they come and go. Colour for me is anytime, anywhere. If you enjoy it and it makes you feel good, then use it despite the current trend. Be confident!


Who has been your biggest influence?

For me, the biggest influence during my journey as a textile designer in the early 90s was Tricia Guild. Her lack of fear in using colour in an era of brown and beige was inspirational. She brought together oranges, pinks, aquas - even gold - and showed me how harmony in colour and design was key.


Is there a particular genre that has influenced you?

Growing up I was surrounded by patterned laminex, bubbly, flecked vinyl, “asterisk starburst” patterned upholstery, textured wallpaper and wavy hourglass patterned curtains. Kidney shaped coffee tables with iron V-shaped legs, brightly coloured plastic radios in the shape of bloated rectangles, TV chairs with parabolic arch shaped legs - all of this had an effect on my young, creative mind. To a greater or lesser extent its influence tends to run through all my designs.


How would you describe your design aesthetic?

I am drawn to drama and impact in design. My work often takes small details and reinvents them as large pattern. So large, that sometimes on upholstered pieces the pattern is indiscernible and devolves into abstract shapes, which I find really exciting.


Do you have a design tip you can share?

In general I start with 3 colours. The middle colour links with the other two and forms a “bridge”. When I use just 2 colours they are almost always visually dramatic or contrasting.


How do you feel about mixing designs and patterns and do you have any tips?

I love mixing patterns and colours in interiors. The only way it works is if there is a dominant theme running throughout. It might be a particular colour, shape or texture, but without a unifying factor a mixed scheme quickly becomes cluttered.


What has been your biggest breakthrough?

My biggest breakthrough came when I realised I could use my graphic design training to design patterns and print fabric. I felt I had come home and was free at last to do what I knew I wanted to do from the very beginning.


Do you have a favourite colour combination that works in all seasons?

Olive, or lime, and black work with most colours. I usually include them somewhere in my designs. Olive works well with browns and warm, autumn colours. Lime harmonises well with light, summery colours and black works with everything.


You say you like to contribute to happy homes—what makes a home happy?

A happy home is when you have surrounded yourself with the things you are passionate about or just simply love and everything is in harmony.


Do you have any rules when designing?

Not really. Rules are for breaking. My designs are usually derived from colours and shapes I love and have had some influence in my life. My Contempo range is influenced by the visual stimuli I was surrounded by in the 50s.


What inspires you today?

My surrounds. It depends on where I am living - city, country or overseas - my perception, attention to details and inquiring eye give me inspiration everyday.


How did you figure out that you wanted to do textile design? What determined your passion for design? Tell us about the moment when you decided this was the way to go.

I trained and practised as a graphic designer in advertising and publishing. When I left art college, my first job was designing decals for glasses and ovenware for Crown Corning. (Your Mum probably has some somewhere in her kitchen.)


One of Lynne's Crown Corning glasses


It was my first acquaintance with pattern and surface printing and I liked the fact that I was helping to create a utilitarian product that would be used in homes. I suppose my desire to enhance domestic décor was first ignited by that first job. I have gone down other career paths over the years and they have all added to my knowledge of colour and design in surprisingly different, yet useful ways. One day a friend showed me how to hand print fabric and I was hooked. Fabric is a beautiful medium to work in because it has texture and it takes on the 3D characteristics of whatever it covers - your design just springs to life. Like I said, I was hooked.


The early days. Lynne handprinting fabric.


These days modernist design is in vogue. Clean lines, large spaces with minimalist objects and furniture… it’s a challenge to make it feel cosy. What do you think about this trend?

I get very frustrated with the trend towards minimalist décor. I feel it doesn't show the character or personality of the inhabitants. A home's décor can also influence our emotions and behaviour and I feel a bit bleak and unhappy in such environments. It's like having a conversation with someone who isn't listening.


How would you define your own personal interiors style?

Eclectic. I love pattern, of course, and I'm not afraid to mix patterns together or place antique beside modern or to contrast different colourways. I find the challenge invigorating and rewarding. I like well-considered design and I dislike clutter, so balance is everything to me.


Thanks, Lynne, for sharing with us.


You're welcome. It's always a pleasure to talk about design.





To me, Lynne’s design hark back to the grand styles and shapes of American Mid Century Modern with just a hint of a nod towards the heady days of Populuxe. She is so right about minimalism. I find it lazy, depressing and uptight. Minimalists seem to throw out all their family histories and are left with hollow shrines to clinical nothingness.
Lynne’s designs make me want to follow those bongo sounds…

Posted by Mark Elder on January 09, 2015

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