Behind the scenes of creating the Toile de MyAlpaca

 

Early this spring I was contacted by Magda Kot at MyAlpaca, asking if I could help her company make an impact at the Warsaw Home International Interior Design Fair.

She had a vision of a Toile de Jouy pattern as the setting and backdrop for her products at the exhibition - a pattern that would catch the eye and attention of the visitors and also to add an experience for their customers. And yeah, I definitely could help her out with this. Toile de Jouy patterns are kinda my thing.

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MyAlpaca is a brand who makes luxury duvets and pillows with soft Alpaca wool. Their mission is to provide the best bedding possible and help their customers to a happier, healthier life through better, comfortable sleep. Their duvets and pillows are a combination of modern textile knowledge and traditional hand-quilting methods - and with a great attention to details.

Duvets filled with the natural Alpaca fiber are soft and lightweight. It adapts to your body temperature, doesn’t retain moisture and is also hypoallergenic.

Another mission for MyAlpaca is to preserve and pass on the tradition of hand-quilting of the region, rooted in the Guild of Tailors that was established in 1272 in Krakow, Poland.

Read more about MyAlpaca here >>


the possibilities of a pattern

A pattern is a great way to adorn a surface and add product appeal, but that’s not all it can do. In its constitution lies expanded possibilities to add values and context to your brand. It gives you the opportunity to tell a story on a subconscious level, creating associations without having to say or write the words out loud. Well, of course, not all patterns can tell a whole story - a polka dot, or simple stripe may not be able to do that, but still, they can convey a sense of atmosphere through their style, composition and colors.

Imagine a booth at an exhibition with elegant, thin, navy blue stripes on the walls will create a completely different impression than a pattern with broad, rainbow colored stripes. My point is that you can strengthen the values of your brand and attract the right customers with the right pattern.

toile de jouy - a story

One pattern style that really can tell a story is Toile de Jouy. In itself it is a narrative pattern consisting of a number of scenes or motifs conveying a theme, event and sometimes even a whole story. The style first emerged in Ireland but was soon adapted by French and English fabric manufacturers during the second half of the 18th century as the new technology of copper plate printing in combination with the new knowledge of dye fast dying of cotton fabrics from India enabled the designers to create patterns with much more delicate details and larger repeats.

Especially one place became famous for their fabrics with this type designs - Manufactur Oberkampf in the small village Jouy en Josas just outside of Versailles. Toile de Jouy literally means ”Cloth from Jouy”.

Toile depicting the story of Robinson Crusoe.

Toile depicting the story of Robinson Crusoe.

Toile showing the life and labour of fishermen.

Toile showing the life and labour of fishermen.

Typical Toile theme: love and couples courting.

Typical Toile theme: love and couples courting.

The first balloon flight was an important event and immortalized through this Toile design.

The first balloon flight was an important event and immortalized through this Toile design.

the process behind the MyAlpaca pattern

I loved the idea of using a Toile pattern as a way to create curiosity and grab attention at an exhibition and threw myself at the project. The brief had some really exciting ingredients, for example to somehow incorporate their brand character, the Alpaca in the pattern.

A typical Toile pattern includes a number of scenes that tells a story or of an event of some kind - a theme. This design would also have a theme, of rest, comfort and nature. I had a pretty clear idea of how I wanted it to look and feel right from the start.

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I decided to create a quite traditional Toile, with scenes depicting the countryside, with meadows, trees, bushes, cottages and fences where the cute Alpaca could hang out. It has 4 main scenes in a half drop and fillers to connect them and create a nice seamless flow and decorative impression.

As always when creating a pattern in the Toile de Jouy style I start out with brainstorming ideas for the developing the theme and story it will convey and imagine what type of scenes and components that can support this.

Then I describe each scene in detail, what to include in terms of objects, trees, flowers, landscape, architecture and characters. And after that the fun sketching part begins.

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I share and teach my exact process in the Toile de Jouy course on Skillshare if you’d like to learn more.


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When I had a first draft of the pattern I shared it with my Magda and her team to let them see where it was going and make sure we were on the same page.

And what a dream client! They trusted me completely with interpreting the concept and forming the design. We had a great exchange of feedback throughout the design phase. A joy to work with! 

After a few tweaks here and there to perfect the layout and density of the pattern we were both very pleased with the result. And then it was time for me to let this baby out in the world and live its life.

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The pattern was printed on fabric that will cover the walls of the booth and made into a limited edition of bed linens, duvet and pillow carry bags as well as for candles and notebook giveaways. Overall it will create a classic, elegant and sophisticated look and if you look closely you’ll find details that supports the brand values of the cute, gentle Alpacas that are at the center of the products.

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