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Pattern Set Free

Jan. 8, 2018

Designer Aimée Wilder lets interiors+sources into the depths of her design process.

Every other Monday, i+s will bring you the latest designers making a splash on the market. To get the latest straight to your inbox, subscribe to our e-newsletters. -Editors

Sitting over breakfast in Brooklyn on an October morning, Aimée Wilder and I discuss life—from the importance of diet for a myriad of health reasons to our pets to the inspiration that pops up as an inhabitant of Brooklyn. As editor of i+s, I have the opportunity to interview so many amazing people, and it’s these types of down-to-earth conversations that imprint themselves on my mind. It’s easy to see how creativity pops up for Wilder; the difficult part would be to keep it all in order.

Wilder’s designs expertly mix patterns and color so that her collections of rugs, fabrics, and wallcoverings become the focal point. It’s a trend we’re seeing everywhere; accent pieces are becoming the cornerstone of which a space is designed, although Wilder’s more neutral pallets comfortably work as a supporting character.

If her work hasn’t yet been on your radar, you can bet you’ll see her more frequently in 2018.

Aimée Wilder, founder of her namesake design company

interiors+sources: Where can your goods be found?

Aimée Wilder: My wallpapers, fabrics, rugs, and accessories can be found on my website, aimeewilder.com, as well as through some of my favorite retailers such as Domino, Anthropologie, and 1stdibs.

i+s: How did you get your start?

AW: I was born and raised in New York and spent a lot time in the fashion showrooms where my parents worked. I discovered my love for creating artwork through exploring the designs there and followed that passion when attending The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. After I graduated, I worked as a freelance designer and grew my body of work, which eventually led to positions at DwellStudio, Martha Stewart Living, and The Gap.

In 2008, Vans featured three of my patterns on 30 styles of shoes and fashion accessories. Following this first fashion-licensing contract, it was the ideal time to launch my own namesake brand. My first collection debuted at New York’s ICFF in 2009.

i+s: What inspires you?

AW: I find inspiration in pretty much everything: I’m constantly saving images from the internet, magazine clippings to file folders, and taking pictures of people, places, objects, and scenery while traveling.

Lately, when creating more complex designs, I begin with a collaging process prior to drawing. This process has led to an interest in collage art and artists like my favorite, Mr. Babies. He uses psychedelic and op-art elements of pattern in his work. This process took place during the development of my Phantasmagoria collection as well as my recent launch, Bun Voyage.

Cheetah Vision in Candy--part of the Phantasmagoria collection

i+s: What is the hardest part of the creative process?

AW: For me, ideation is not a problem; I come up with lots of concepts that I keep track of in hundreds of lists and notes. The hardest part of the process for me is prioritizing what needs to be done for a deadline and making sure all components of a design are perfect before production. I have to work hard to keep focused and not get side tracked by new work or ideas.

i+s: What is your favorite thing in your working environment?

AW: I love my live-work space in Williamsburg. It’s a beautiful loft with large windows and lots of natural light. There is a certain sense of freedom in not having a super structured office, since I can always pick up and move if I really desire. Although I yearn for more space—which is difficult to come by in NYC, especially if you are combining living and working—there is just something so sweet about working from home. I’ve been working and living in studio-like spaces since I was 14 years old: at boarding school, in college dorms, and in a live-work studio in Boulder, Colo., similar to my current one in Brooklyn. That’s why this style of living and working has become ingrained in me.

i+s: What career or personal mistake have you learned the most from?

AW: Though I wouldn’t call it a mistake, I think I could have benefited from not cutting corners early on and having proper legal counsel when needed. I took legal advice from lawyers who weren’t specialized in what I needed help with and I’ve now learned it is essential to have a great arts lawyer.

Camp Indigo carpet, hand-knotted in Nepal with Tibetan Wool and 100% silk
New collection Bun Voyage looks at the world from a bunny's-eye view

i+s: Who has helped you realize your dreams?

AW: My mother and father, my many employers, and my friends all helped me realize my dreams. My mother inspired me to follow my passion and use my natural strengths, like creativity and artistic vision, to help my career.

When I decided to start my business, both of my parents supported me in many ways, like coming to trade shows I was showing at and helping me structure my business. Former employers helped me learn many skills that I still use today, like digital file structure; but when the time came to stop working at a specific office, I am still grateful to this day that they set me free.

i+s: What is your favorite design era?

AW: It’s hard to choose. I love design and patterns from the ’20s and the ‘50s, and furnishings from the ‘60s and ‘70s, especially anything by Pierre Paulin and Verner Panton.

i+s: What is your favorite color?

AW: That’s a difficult question, since in the past I worked as a colorist where I would spend several months at a time developing palettes on screen and from physical materials. This practice carried over into my current design work; I can’t help but make hundreds of colorways to see how the artwork changes! Once I get obsessed with a specific color, I like to go monochromatic with pops of contrast.

Prism: a collection of fine flat weave rugs

i+s: Do you have any rituals for getting out of a design rut?

AW: I’ve been hypnotized before and the session focused on creativity. This was after six months of bedrest from a knee reconstruction and I think it worked. That’s obviously not an everyday solution, so when I need inspiration now, I love going to the Strand or to design libraries to seek inspiration in books. I find learning about designers, artists, and science to be incredibly motivating.

i+s: What’s next for you?

AW: I would love to expand my brand into a lifestyle and have endless ideas for future growth. I want to make woven fabrics and design furniture and bedding. I’d also like to explore sculptural things like bathtubs, sinks, and tile, or even public sculpture. I’m going to continue developing rugs, which has been a passion project with a big learning curve. I also want to break into apparel with menswear items like ties, casual shirts, and suits, and womenswear with pieces like silk dresses, skirts, caftans, pants, cashmere items, and more. I’d love to do children and baby clothing too!

I’m always seeking brands and artists to collaborate with and am currently working with a licensing agent for licensed designs. I’m also looking for illustration agents worldwide and dream of animating my artwork. My site is going to start carrying curated products from independent designers that have meaning to me or fit in with my line. In addition, I have recently expanded from serving the residential market to now accommodating commercial orders as well. The list of things I want to do next really never ends.

i+s: What do you think is next for the interior design industry?

AW: I see a lot of movement between industries happening lately. I like the idea of crossovers between home décor, fashion brands, and artists. My work with Ivana Helsinki and Mowgli Surf showed me that there are a lot of fashion brands that could be utilizing their prints to full potential with these types of collaborations. I love enabling fashion designers, and more recently artists, to utilize their patterns and artwork in different ways than the original intent, with a multitude of colors and variations on repeat. I also see VR and high-tech materials beginning to surface more and more.

Related: Textured Wallcoverings Show No Signs of Slowing Down

About the Author

Kadie Yale | Former Editor-in-Chief

Kadie Yale holds a BA in Industrial Design from San Francisco State University and a MA in Decorative Art History and Theory from Parsons the New School. In her role as editor-in-chief from 2015-2018, she led the interiors+sources team in creating relevant content that touches on sustainability, universal design, science, and the role of design in society.

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