Which products work well with a Toile de Jouy pattern?
A few weeks ago I got an email from a woman who runs a small business that markets childrens clothing. She had come across my patterns somehow and wondered if I took orders to make custom patterns.
She wanted to have a Toile de Jouy pattern according to some references and images for one of her coming collections and after some discussing back and forth we agreed and I started working.
To be honest, most of my pattern designs are created just from my own hearts desire without any brief or specific product in mind.
I have managed to sell and license some patterns to a handful of products within a couple of industries, but I had only done a couple of commission patterns before and every time it got me thinking of how different the process is when you design from a brief and a specific product than just from you own idea and imagination.
This got me wondering; Are there pattern types that work better for specific products and patterns that will look bad on other? Are there any rules for this?
I guess the general answer is yes and I’m quoting Picasso:
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
Creativity and art shouldn’t have boundaries, but when it comes to commercial forces it does wether we like it or not. There are trends, statistics and target markets that needs to be considered.
We can claim that we don’t consider current trends when we create our designs, but we also want to sell right? So our designs do have to have some kind of deliberation behind them, or else we just depend on luck or circumstances.
Already in the 18th century the designers had to consider what would sell when they created patterns. And especially when the printed cottons with Indian florals and later the rococo inspired Toile de Jouy were the roaring trends.
Here’s an observation from 1767 by Denis Diderot, an art critic and philosopher who commented on design and the current fashion like this:
”The art of designing fabric patterns is no more arbitrary than that of drawing a figure, but I find its rules more obscure, more elusive. To begin to discern them, one must renounce the coarser phenomena, for example snakes, birds, trees, houses and butterflies; a snake, a tree, a house would certainly be ridiculous on a woman’s back. One might move on from there to consider her sex, her age, the colour of her skin, her social status, and to subtler matters of decorum.”
Already by then there were rules about what type of designs would be proper or suitable for specific products - or purposes!
So back to my question: Are there any rules on what patterns that work better for certain products?
Or, even more interesting from a pattern designers (running her own business and wants to design from her own hearts desire) point of view:
What products works well for specific patterns? This is important for when we pitch our patterns to companies within different industries. Perhaps we can optimise our portfolios and what we present to specific industries?
So starting with the Toile de Jouy pattern design style I’m asking: What products work well with this pattern?
The traditional use for a Toile de Jouy and how it mostly was used when it first appeared during the second half of the 18th century was for upholstery and bed hangings, sometimes even for dresses, but referring to what Monsieur Diderot said, a snake or a house would look ridiculous on a woman back, so it depended on the motifs of course. Flowers and birds were obviously ok to use on clothes.
Today we are breaking the rules though and now you can see Toile patterns on all kinds of products besides the traditional upholstery. A very popular surface for this pattern style is wallpaper. Bedding and pillows too.
Sometimes you even see bold usage of the pattern on products like jackets, shoes and bags.
I have compiled a little gallery of Toile de Jouy products on Pinterest to ogle. Use it as inspiration for:
- Designing your own Toile patterns
- Making mockups for your portfolio to present to companies
- Producing your own printed products to sell
If you're curious about how a Toile de Jouy pattern is made or want more history behind this pattern and how to make one yourself you can take my class about this pattern style on Skillshare.