Category Archives: Behind the Design

Print & Pattern: Inspiration for our Fall Pillow Collection

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This season, our pillow collection is all about color, texture and pattern. We spoke to one of our lead in-house textile designers, Sandra, to learn more about the inspiration behind this bold new look.

Most of the patterns in our new pillows have a distinctly global feel, and were inspired in-part by trips our design team took to Barcelona and Morocco. Two patterns in particular — Ikats and Suzanis — are traditional prints commonly found in these two regions.

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Our design team took those traditional patterns and updated them with unusual colorways for a Pottery Barn twist. Using current color trends with classic global patterns transformed their look and feel.

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One of our favorite pillows for the season, the Mercer Ikat, is based on a traditional Uzbekistani pattern, but the combination of navy, sunflower yellow and berry make it stand out. The pattern itself is made with a rustic linen tissue, appliqued and embroidered to the pillow for a casual look that doesn’t feel too precious.

To see the rest of our new pillow collection, click here.

Behind the Design: Interview with Photographer Alicia Bock

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Having grown up in the water-bound states of Michigan and Florida, photographer Alicia Bock‘s work is often influenced by large bodies of water. Even when water isn’t directly in her work, it’s easy to see its impact in Bock’s soothing photos with blue hues, cool undertones and soft, filtered light. Bock’s work instantly catches the eye — and we’re proud to host some of her newest pieces on potterybarn.com! We spoke to Alicia to get the scoop on her inspiration, favorite spots to snap photos and more.

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Above: Lost

Q: It’s great that you’re self-taught. Can you tell us how you started getting interested in photography?

A: I think this life is in my blood. My grandparents, my dad, my cousins; we are a sentimental group. I can’t remember not having a camera, or not being in front of my dad’s. My Grandma always had a Polaroid full of film, and she is the reason for my Polaroid obsession today.

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Above: January’s Day Dream

 Q: When did you decide to pursue photography professionally?

A: When my daughter was born (11 years ago) I quit my non-profit job to stay home with her and found myself not only taking a lot of pictures of her, but the rest of my world too. Along the way someone suggested I should apply for a local art show, which I did. Thankfully, those first few customers were receptive to my style, and I never looked back.

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Above: It Was Always You

Q: What’s one of your favorite places to photograph? Why?

A: Any beach, but I am very partial to the beautiful Great Lakes that surround my home state of Michigan. They are the places of my favorite memories, and most relaxed moments, which I think comes across in my work.

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Above: 2900 Miles #6

Q: What kind of advice would you give a beginning photographer who wants to become a professional?

A: My best and really all encompassing advice is work hard. I work harder at this than I have ever worked on any job where I worked for someone else, and I think most people who are self-employed will tell you the same. Make a business plan, and read books/websites/articles about running a business just as much as you read about photography.

ALICIA BOCK

See more of Alicia’s work at potterybarn.com. 

 

Behind the Design: Our New Homescent Packaging

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When presented with the challenge of redesigning our homescent packaging, our in-house design team decided to take a different route. Instead of replicating traditional home fragrance packaging — like the big plastic trays and boxes that we’re used to seeing in stores — they wanted to design something that felt much more special — and much more like Pottery Barn.

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Drawing inspiration from more elegant and streamlined perfume packaging, the team developed what you’ll now see in Pottery Barn stores: a clean, colorful package that immediately catches your eye. What’s different? First off, these new designs use less materials and space. The reduced package size fits each product perfectly and cuts down on production and material costs.

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Next, each new fragrance has its own specific color palette, chosen to associate with each scent’s distinctive feel. Pantone color swatches helped to define each scent’s visual identifier when the team was creating this new color palette.

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The boxes got a blast of style with new patterns, too. With the help of our in-house textile team, our packaging designers chose bold, graphic motifs that are iconic to the Pottery Barn brand.

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Kraft and gold foil labels fall in line with the rest of our rustic luxe style packaging.

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Lastly, these new boxes are made for easy gifting. The different patterns inside and outside of the box add contrast and color, and allow for a completely reversible box design. Since the boxes are made with friction locks instead of glue, they can be folded inside out. If you’re in need of a last minute hostess gift, simply purchase one of our homescents at a store, turn the box inside out to eliminate any branding, and you have instant, beautiful wrapping ready to go.

See our full homescent collection here. 

Behind the Design: Santino Recycled Glassware

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Why does it take two artisans at least 20 minutes to make just one of our Santino glasses? Because each one is made entirely by hand, which means that no two glasses are exactly the same. Unlike other techniques involving a mold, Santino is made entirely with a free-blowing technique that’s common in Mexico, where these glasses are handcrafted. Santino is made primarily out of recycled glass from local soda and tequila companies, which gives it a sturdy, artisan feel.

Read on to learn more about the process behind our new line of recycled glassware.

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Each piece of Santino Glassware is made out of collected or donated bottles — many of them discarded Coca-Cola or Barrilitos soda bottles. Turning millions of pieces of broken, recycled glass into the stunning Santino glassware requires intense hand labor and skill. These master glass blowers start training at a young age, since it takes at least 10 years to become a true master.

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Once an adequate amount of glass has been collected and all the colored glass sorted out, it’s cleaned carefully with water — no acids or chemicals are used during this process.All of the glass is loaded into a kiln set at 1500° C. Once the master glass blowers are ready, they use a pipe to take out some of the glass from the kiln and create a glass bulb. This bulb is molded, rolled and blown until it’s the right size and shape. Any details, such as the molded glass base, are added by hand with clamps, wooden slats and other tools.

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The glass is reheated several times to finalize the shape and prevent breakage. When the process is complete, it’s put in an oven (along with many other glasses) set at about 500° C. The oven is turned off and closed from about 3PM to 6AM, when the glass has set and cooled completely.

All of this work is well worth it — our Santino Recycled Glassware is thick and sturdy enough for everyday use, but still has an elegant shape that’s perfect for summer dinner parties.

Read more about the stories behind Pottery Barn designs. 

A Behind the Scenes Sneak Peek at Pottery Barn Catalog Shoots

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Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be on a Pottery Barn photo shoot? It’s exhilarating and exciting — everything you’d expect, and more. But it’s also a lot of work — shots almost never turn out perfectly on the first take. Plus, there are plenty of elements to work around — like weather, or location geography — so it can be unpredictable. Take a look at some of our recent behind the scenes shots to see what lengths our talented photography crew goes to in order to create our beautiful catalog.

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Photographing furniture on a windy day is no easy feat, especially when that day’s subject is our umbrella collection.

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Peekaboo — there’s the crew! This kept everything in place until our photographer got the perfect shot.

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And here’s what the final shot ends up looking like — a beautiful display of our outdoor umbrellas.

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We’ll go to pretty much any length to get the perfect photo — even if it means standing tippy-toe on a ladder to make sure it turns out just right.

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Isn’t it amazing what just the right angle will do? This beautiful image is part of what brought indigo to life at Pottery Barn this spring.

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You might’ve caught a glimpse of this shot in our April Fool’s post, but we wanted to show you the entire behind the scenes process. Sometimes orders just don’t come through when you need them — even when you’re a professional! We only had one set of benches arrive in time for this shoot, so we shot them on one side of the table …

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… and then the other!

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A little photo magic (and a little bit of restyling) resulted in this gorgeous shot. Perfection!

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Here’s a snap from the set of our recent summer shoot. We wanted to make it look like some of our new lanterns were floating on water, so our photo crew built platforms under the water for the lanterns to sit on.

December 2013 in Cabo, shooting Summer 2014

Our talented photographer perched himself in the hot tub to find the right angle.

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After staging and waiting for just the right light, here’s the final result — the image that made us fall in love with the glow of summer.

 

 

Behind the Design: Our New Marrakech Drink Dispenser

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Warm weather brings out our deep love for drink dispensers. What’s not to love? They’re a great way to host cocktail hours, luncheons or dinner parties. They’re the perfect solution for easy entertaining — guests can serve themselves, and you only need to mix up one batch of drinks.

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This summer, we’re particularly proud of our new Marrakech Drink Dispenser. This beautiful piece isn’t just an entertaining must — it’s a beautifully designed object that you’ll cherish for years to come.

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The Marrakech Drink Dispenser is inspired by the shape and style of Moroccan lanterns. When it’s empty and held up to the light, you’ll see why — the depth and quality of the piece diffuses light beautifully.

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Each Marrakech Drink Dispenser is handmade with a historic technique. Every piece of solid brass is hammered into place and detailed by hand. The glass is actually blown into the metal design, creating a single, sturdy construction. The hole for the stainless steel spigot is sandblasted, rather than drilled, for a cleaner cut.

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It’s a labor-intensive piece, but the visual result is well worth it. Our favorite part? The separate, bowl-like stand that can be filled up with fruit, colorful accessories or even a few flameless candles to give an evening party extra glow.

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Since the Marrakech Drink Dispenser is made by hand, every piece is different. The slight imperfections in the intricate metalwork add character. It’s a true piece of functional art that we’re proud to share with you this summer.

Behind the Design: Our New Kai Shell Lamps

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To us, summer is just as much a state of mind as it is a time of year, and we want our summer collections to feel just as warm and relaxing as the season. Our new Kai Shell Ambiant Lamps certainly epitomize this feel. This new lighting for summer sets the mood with a soft glow.

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Artisans in the Philippines make each one of these intricately designed pieces by hand. Take a look at a sketch from one of the original designers of the Kai Shell Lamp design, below. The floral pattern is based on the shape of cut shells from water snails common to the islands.

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These snails (white vertagus and black faunus) are found along the beaches and often used for food. The leftover shells are cut either horizontally or vertically, and the inner skeleton is glued on to a resin lamp base by hand in a floral pattern. A resin laminate covers the shells to protect them, and then the lamp is wired and packed for shipment.

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When complete, the black shells almost look like they’re tattooed onto the lamp base, while the white shells mimic lacework — especially when they’re switched on and emitting their soothing glow.

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We’re excited and proud to share these new lamps with you. They’re the perfect way to start welcoming summer into your home!