Category Archives: Behind the Design

Behind the Design: Our New Reclaimed Wood Bowry Furniture

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bowry reclaimed wood pottery barn paisley pillows

We’re passionate about our handpainted patterns and original designs here at Pottery Barn, but we know that even our most exquisite designs can’t quite replicate the beauty of nature. So, we decided to simply let our stunning natural materials shine on their own in our new reclaimed wood furniture collection — Bowry.

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This new eco-friendly collection is handcrafted of reclaimed hard woods that have been rescued from old structures throughout India. Each piece of wood has a unique character that we’ve revealed through careful hand-finishing and distressing.

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Made mostly of Acacia, Teak, and Mango, the wood’s rich history is apparent right away. Our expert artisans select each piece for strength and beauty, and then carefully determine how to construct and finish the collection so the wood’s natural beauty is highlighted.

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Every piece from our Bowry collection — each console, side table, and coffee table — will look completely different. We hope you cherish the beauty in the wood’s character — the knots, groves and chisels — as much as we do.

bowry reclaimed wood table pottery barn

Behind the Design: Heritage Paisley, Designed by Us

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We believe that the beauty of any object is enhanced by the story behind it. At our artist’s studio, the story of every product we create begins with the artist’s hand and the courage to share an idea. Our designers spend countless hours researching antique patterns, colors and silhouettes. Yet it’s pure creativity that turns that inspiration into something entirely new.

Our new heritage paisley collection encompasses this mantra perfectly. Our San Francisco design team reimagined this classic, centuries-old pattern in new scales, shapes and colors for modern living.

Read more about the story behind these designs here.

Behind the Design: A New Take on Paisley

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Born in 12th century Iran, shipped out West in the 18th century and named after a 19th century Scottish town, the paisley pattern has seen its fair share of history and culture.

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The classic pattern’s Middle Eastern origins revolve around a botanical-based design called the buta — the droplet-shaped motif that we associate with classic paisley today. Over time, the design evolved into something quite different as it made its way west towards Italy, Spain and France (primarily in the form of high-end shawls, which Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine were particularly fond of). Eventually, the pattern took on a new western name, after the town of Paisley, Scotland, where many of the designs were produced.

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Today, paisley still retains its title as one of the world’s most classic patterns. At Pottery Barn, we have innumberable interpretations of paisley, and many of them are our top-sellers in bedding, pillows and rugs.

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This year, we took our love of paisley to an entirely new level. We dug deep into our incredible textile library, and went back to the roots of this traditional design for inspiration.

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Each of our new paisley patterns are drawn carefully by hand, then digitally blown up and adjusted for scale, and then fine-tuned by hand once more before printing.

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Our incredible San Francisco design team gave each paisley pattern a distinctly Pottery Barn twist, blowing up the scale and playing with contemporary color palettes to create patterns that are better suited for modern living.

The result? A stunning collection that melds classic and contemporary style in fabrics that were made for casual, easy living.

Shop the full collection here. 

Behind the Design: Our Exclusive Paper Invitation Collection with Wedding Paper Divas

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Our latest designs aren’t what you’d expect to see when walking into one of our stores — but they’re still meant to celebrate life and inspire beautiful living, just like all of our furniture, pillows, bedding and decor.

We’re so excited to introduce our new signature invitation collection, exclusively designed by Pottery Barn designers for Wedding Paper Divas!

These designs don’t just look good on paper (although that’s true too, of course) — all of our invitation suites are based on textiles and patterns that our talented in-house team designs themselves. Many of these patterns are inspired by historical illustrations that our team puts their own special Pottery Barn twist on to create new, innovative patterns — like the vintage-style Flora suite, above.

Photography: Delbarr Moradi
Styling: Megan Shuler, Enjoy Events Co.

Wedding Paper Divas & Pottery Barn Traditional Lace

Paisley Lace

This lace pattern is actually based off of one of our paisley quilt patterns. The pattern is a long strip that repeats continuously on the quilt, so our design team reformatted and restricted to make it look like a single piece of delicate lace.

Wedding Paper Divas & Pottery Barn Classic Toile

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Inspired by our Matine Toile Bedding, our designers gave this a fresh update with new color palettes that feel much more dramatic on paper. The Matine Toile is an old late 19th century French Toile. It’s unusual in that there are no people and no story. Toiles usually told stories and have lots of characters — both human and animal.

Wedding Paper Divas & Pottery Barn Atlantic

Atlantic

One of our most popular summer duvets has a delicate coral pattern that’s based off of hand-painted illustrations done in-house. Our team took the digital versions of those illustrations and restructured them to fit on a new card. Since the illustrations are so soft, our designers choose a strong and modern font for contrast.

Wedding Paper Divas & Pottery Barn Barbados Palm

Barbados Palm

Both this collection and our Flora collection took inspiration from 17th and 18th century botanical and scientific books/illustrations. Our designers use these as a base for our custom patterns, and hand illustrate new patterns which are scanned in and adjusted for new details and colors.

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Fauna

The rustic, yet elegant Fauna design features beautiful hand-drawn birds based off of one of our best selling duvets this spring. (Read the full story behind this pattern, here.) This suite is especially unique, as each piece of stationery features a different nature-inspired drawing.
Wedding Paper Divas & Pottery Barn Global Chic

Global Chic

This pattern actually stems from a plate in our holiday collection this year — the design team loved the pattern that the plates made when layered and stacked, so they replicated it and created a vector out of it to reproduce a brand new pattern.

See the full collection for yourself here.

Behind the Design: Botanical Prints Inspire our Favorite Birds, Butterflies and Flowers for Spring

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Piles of 17th, 18th and 19th century botanical books litter the desks in our textile team’s studio at PBHQ. Each book is a confetti explosion of Post-Its, bookmarking inspirational images for our talented team.

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This Spring, these scientific and botanical illustrations served as inspiration for our new Fauna Duvet. Our designers used select illustrations from these books (just like the ones below) as a base for our custom patterns. After hand illustrating new birds, butterflies and flowers, our designers scanned in each illustration and blew up the size and adjusted the image for new details and colors.

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Once the right size is determined, the team creates a pattern including each icon (birds, butterflies, flowers and plants in this case). The pattern has to repeat correctly without looking like it’s actually repeating, which is incredibly difficult.

After a lot of hand-done work and computer magic, our San Francisco team designed what’s now our signature pattern for Spring. The mix of colors and the slightly whimsical note has made it one of our most popular patterns this season, and a welcome break from the snow, rain and sleet outside.

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Makeover Takeover! Pottery Barn Brings New Life to Larkin Street Youth Services’s Residences

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“Everyone deserves the dignity of home.” This poignant quote perfectly encompasses why we’re so passionate about working with the Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco.

For the past 30 years, this program has served the homeless youth of San Francisco with emergency shelters, education programs and transitional living facilities.

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This year, we were thrilled and honored to make over one of Larkin Street’s youth residences in San Francisco.

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Located in the Outer Richmond neighborhood, the building has 4 floors (and a roofdeck!) devoted to the 18-24 year olds who live here. Set against the stunning backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge, this space (including 2 living rooms, 2 study rooms, 2 kitchens, a laundry room, a gym and a roof deck) got a complete makeover over the course of two days thanks to 2 teams of over 40 Pottery Barn associates.

Take a look at the total transformation, below!

BEFORE: The building had a stunning roofdeck (That view!) that was in good shape, but just needed a little love.
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AFTER: A new dining set, some succulents and other warm weather plants did just the trick.

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AFTER: This team also painted lattices bright white to add a little privacy to the sides of the roofdeck, while still preserving the view.

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BEFORE: The third floor living space had one random pink wall and poor lighting.

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AFTER: A coat of fresh paint, a new chandelier, our cozy and comfy Turner Sectional and other personal Pottery Barn touches turned this room into a chic, Southwest-inspired living space.

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BEFORE: The kitchen needed some help, too. Blue paint and a lack of communal space made the room feel disorganized and dingy, despite all the natural light.

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AFTER: A navy blue chalkboard wall contrasts beautifully with a coat of crisp white paint, while our expandable Banks Dining Table provides plenty of seating.

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BEFORE: We wanted to turn this third floor homework room into a space with sleek, adult style that would encourage good study habits and create a warm, quiet space to work.

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AFTER: This Pottery Barn Kids Teepee makes for the perfect reading nook, too!

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BEFORE: Downstairs, this living space needed some help, too.

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AFTER: It’s amazing what color can do! This accent wall of Sherwin-Williams Naval brought the room to life.

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BEFORE: Like the study room upstairs, this room had plenty of natural light.

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AFTER: White curtains filter the light just a little bit, and make this corner a cozy spot to read or catch up on homework.

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We all had an amazing couple of days volunteering for these inspiring members of our community. We couldn’t be more proud to support such a wonderful organization and group of people.

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Behind the Design: Our New Art Collection

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We’ve taken an entirely new approach to Pottery Barn’s art collection this year. Our collection has expanded, and we’re working hard to make sure everyone has a chance to buy beautiful, one-of-a-kind art for their homes.

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What’s new? Take a peek at our Art Shop — you might be surprised! We’ve separated pieces by style to make it easy, and each section is full of takes on text and type, elegant mirrors, inspiring abstract prints and stunning vintage reproductions, all made to order.

porous Like this print — originally a collagraph by Seattle artist Eunice Kim, Porous #24 is a giclée reproduction, made just for you, with the same detail and craftsmanship as the original.

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Or this playful gicleé print by artist Stephanie Sterjovski.

alicia bock As you can tell by this post, we love Alicia Bock’s ethereal and modern photography style. “Paris is always a good idea” — we couldn’t agree more.

Cutting Glass

Check out our new Art Shop to see more of our new, expanded collection — made just for you. 

Print & Pattern: Inspiration for our Fall Pillow Collection

Behind the Design, Behind the Scenes | | | 3 Replies

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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.