Sit right down for a cup of tea. And not just any cup, a retro cup in the brightest hues! Cream and Sugar, Ampersand Design Studio‘s debut collection for Windham Fabrics, is full of charm, color and possibilities! Morgan and Carrie are here today to chat about their collection, so get your cup of tea and stay for a while!
Q: Tell us a little about your design background. What did you do before starting Ampersand Design Studio?
A:We met studying graphic design together at the University of Kansas and were roommates during our semester abroad in England. After graduation, we were both were hired by Hallmark Cards where we worked together chatting over cubicle walls. We both landed in the gift wrap department and instantly fell in love with pattern! This is where we learned the technical aspects of how to design in a repeat and were also exposed to amazing trend information. Not to mention that we were surrounded by experts!
Q: How did Ampersand Design Studio begin? How would you describe your design asthetic?
A:After almost a decade at Hallmark, we were both starting a family and decided it was a good time to follow our dream of starting our own design company, too! These days, we not only work together, but we live five minutes apart with our sweet, (and very supportive), husbands and adorable toddler boys, born six months apart. Our design aesthetic has been described as clean and fresh, energized by shots of surprising color. Although we have different inspirations and points of departure (Morgan is the modern maven, while Carrie haunts vintage and thrift stores), we always attempt to incorporate those viewpoints seamlessly for a look that’s current but not sterile, eclectic but harmonious.
Q: Where did you find your original inspiration for Cream and Sugar?
A:Funny you should ask, you can see in one of our photos, there is a small, vintage espresso cup with blue and green graphics on the side. That very mug was the inspiration! We loved the mid-century graphics and colors and got inspiration from searching out similar pieces. Also, we fell in love with all things tea-related when we studied abroad together in England, so we were thrilled to design a collection around this passion!
Q:What projects are you eager to see using Cream and Sugar?
A:We imagine lots of kitchen-related projects: aprons, place mats, napkins, table runners, coasters, and appliance and tea-pot covers! But we do imagine this collection extending outside of the kitchen. We envision some darling baby & kid outfits and bibs, and we are anxious to make more tote bags and fabric journal covers!
Q:From what aspect of your life do you draw creativity?
A:This tends to change all of the time! If we have the opportunity to travel, we always come home filled with new color, pattern and texture ideas. But, we don’t always have that luxury, so sometimes it can be as simple as going to a new restaurant, taking a walk in a different part of our city than usual, or taking a class. We feel most creative when we are exposed to new things all the time! And last, but definitely not least, sometimes we feel most creative when we simply take a break. Stepping away from the computer and forcing ourselves to think of other things, is often when our most creative ideas pop up!
Q:What is your design process?
A:All of our designs end up on the computer, but quite often we start by drawing in our sketchbooks. Depending on the look we are going for, we might paint, use ink and pen, stamp, or even good old paper and scissors! We also have tablets that allow us to do quite a bit of drawing directly on the computer. If anything is created the old-fashioned way, we often work in black paint, ink, or paper and then scan everything in to add color on the computer. We don’t ever want to limit our mediums and want to continue to explore new ways of creating!
Q:What is your favorite print in the collection?
A: Well, we’re lucky there are two of us. We’re assuming that means we get to pick two, right? 🙂 Carrie’s favorite is the lead pattern, Tea Party because it ties in all the elements together in one design and Morgan’s favorite is the Tea Cups on Sky Blue which was the original piece that sparked the idea for the collection!
Q:What is the most challenging part of the design process?
A:The most challenging part tends to change with each project. Sometimes it’s coming up with the initial idea, sometimes it’s making the initial concept a full collection, and other times it’s the technical aspect of designing the repeat.
Q:What are your favorite and least favorite colors and why?
A:Gah! Don’t make us pick! We seriously love ALL colors!!! If we were pinned down, Carrie would say cherry red and Morgan would say aqua blue, but we are already feeling guilty naming just one! Want to know a crazy story? Here is proof we were separated at birth—we were both “obsessed” with rainbows as girls. Morgan’s parents remember how, before she knew numbers and letters, she spent hours sorting her blocks and crayons in rainbow order. As for Carrie, she’s one of those special people with the “sixth sense” of synesthesia, a condition where the perception of stimuli overlaps sensory channels. (To give an example, the Russian painter Kandinsky, a famous synesthete, reportedly heard musical notes and chords for every color.) In Carrie’s case, every letter and number, as well as month and day of the week, come with a color association.