23 May

Soft Design Lab Live kicks off at the Atlanta Gift Market

Are you planning on attending the Atlanta Gift Market, July 7 – 15,  or do you live in the Atlanta area?  If so don’t miss Jackie and Deb’s fantastic classes at The Deco Zone.


First up is our class on designing and producing signature product for your business.




Have you every thought of producing  signature products of your own for your business but don’t know how to get started?  Whether you are interested in simple promotional items with your companies logo to a full line of home décor fabrics or pillows this seminar will give you the in-depth knowledge, processes and sources to make your products a reality.


Pagoda Pillow Proggression




Monday July 7, 2014   1:00 p.m.  – 6:00 p.m.

Take advantage of new technology and services available today to easily design, manufacture, and sell signature product lines to your customers. Would you like to open a whole new stream of revenue for your business by offering signature fabrics, pillows, decorative throws, candles, trays or any number of beautiful high quality décor items to your clientele that reflect your design aesthetic and signature style? Deb Barrett and Jackie Von Tobel, the creative team behind The Soft Design Lab can show you, step by step, how to enter into and profit from this lucrative market while using it to elevate your brand at the same time. Signature products not only add to your bottom line but they impart a level of professionalism and expertise to your business that sets you apart from your competition. Don’t be left behind, join us and get your beautiful signature brand ready to sell! Followed by wine and cheese reception.

Jackie Von Tobel is an award winning product designer, author and interior designer who has self-produced signature product lines as well as licensed signature lines through established manufacturers in many home decor product categories from fabrics, drapery hardware, tabletop, gift, garden and many more. She will share her industry secrets and show you how to follow her lead into his lucrative sector of the industry.

This class is an intensive crash course on signature product design using newly available fulfillment resources that can enable you to create product offerings to your clients on a short run basis. Jackie will introduce you to  new resources that eliminate the need to buy tons of inventory or stock product and show you how to utilize print and produce on demand services that can automate fulfillment for you direct to your customer’s one item at a time. You will lean the basic techniques and skills needed to easily design signature products and bring them to market.

Don’t have artistic skills? – no problem, Jackie will show you how to use stock image resources, affordable local talent, and starving artists and students to help you create and produce your vision.

Use these products to turn your website and blog into a profitable source of residual income through product sales while growing and promoting your brand at the same time.

Product categories that will be discussed include:

Fabric – Home Décor Textiles and Accessories – Wall Art – Wallpaper – Tabletop

Attendees will also receive these valuable resources:

A one hour post-class phone consultation with Jackie to fine tune your product design plan.                                Detailed Source List                                                                                                                                                                                     Step by Step instructional digital handbook

Brainstorming session and wine and cheese reception following the class from 6PM – 7PM

Learn More or Sign Up Here Today !

attendance is limited

15 May

Chinoiserie Takes High Point by Storm


IMG_5990Global Views

Classic design motifs and genres are making a big comeback and Chinoiserie is at the forefront of this movement.  If you‘ve followed me for any length of time you will know that it is probably my favorite historical element to mix into interiors for a dash of the exotic.  It’s clean lines and bold colors make it a natural compliment for todays vibrant interiors and todays forward thinking manufacturers are serving it up in large doses.


Global Views had several vignettes featuring bold Chinoiserie prints paired with a vibrant tangerine palette and bright white accents.


C.R. Laine went all in with the majority of their showroom sporting one derivative or another of the popular style.  Their front window was a great example of how manufacturers are pairing these traditionally busy prints with modern styling to create a lively mix of culture and contemporary design.  Silhouettes and simplified prints bring the motifs into a more relevant form for todays designer and consumer.




Décor 55

Simplified Asian style toiles were in abundance and most often paired with zebra prints for a touch of contemporary exotica.  Décor 55 a semi custom, drapery manufacturer showed off this pairing with their high quality ready made panels complete with interlining and superior workmanship!




Always on trend – Surya debuted a beautiful painterly selection of vibrant Chinoiserie styled pillows in a large range of colors and styles.  Printed on silk these pillows raised the bar for Suryas extensive pillow program.


Wesley Hall

The Wesley Hall showroom never disappoints and it was clothed in a wide assortment of Chinese décor from lamps to art, upholstery and drapery; they truly embraced the Eastern vibe.  We fell in love with this trellis style “lantern” fixture.


In our last post we discussed the broad use of Greek Key trim by vendors and Wesley Hall was among those who used this classic element to tone down the busy visual of Chinoiserie prints and add a tailored edge as seen in the trim applied to the dust skirt of these lovely chairs. Never underestimate the power of a little bit of trim!!


While they do not sell the wall art that adorns the showroom we have to give a shout out to the design team for providing a complete theme throughout their vignettes with superbly chosen wall décor that brought the rooms home.


Thibaut has always had a selection of Chinoiserie patterns in their line up but their new Enchantment Collection features a diverse blend of traditional Eastern motifs and graphic patterns that create a fresh, trend forward coordinated look.


From beautiful embroidered medallions to a boldly graphic toile, there is something for everyone in this well defined selection.


Terms you should know

Chinoiserie  French for “Chinese-esque”, Chinoiserie is a recurring theme in European artistic styles since the seventeenth century, which reflect Chinese artistic influences. It is characterized by the use of fanciful imagery of an imaginary China, by asymmetry in format and whimsical contrasts of scale, and by the attempts to imitate Chinese porcelain and the use of lacquerlike materials and decoration.

Chinoiserie in a broader scope refers to a mixture of Eastern and Western stylistic elements for both the decoration and shape. The style held particular favour during the Rococo period and the court of Louis XV, with which its fanciful, ornate and idyllic imagery is commonly associated.

Toile or Toile de Jouy is the term for a style of decorative pattern consisting of a plain ground color with an overlayed pattern usually depicting scenic subject matter which is most commonly printed in one color. Modern toiles can be multi colored, rendered in silhouette, or colored in reverse with the background being a dark color and the toile pattern done in a lighter color.  Toiles can be used on fabric, wallpaper, and other decorative surfaces.


01 May

Soft Design Lab – What the heck is it?


What’s it all about?

Basically or in a nutshell…

The Soft Design Lab is an interactive, live, and online base camp that provides advanced education on soft furnishings design and business. 

What can it do for you?

Many designers have little or no formal education in the niche of soft furnishings design and as a result they rely on others to fulfill their clients’ needs in this area leaving substantial profits on the table.  Designers that are designing and selling soft furnishings are constantly on the lookout for new trends, products, and ways to increase their profits in the soft design niche. 

Deb and Jackie have built the Soft Design Labto bring you the very best in soft design education from basic to advanced methods and techniques so that you can survive and thrive in the soft furnishings niche.  Designing and selling soft furnishings can be one of the most profitable categories for your business and we want to arm you with the skills you need to make this a reality for your business.

Here are just a few things you can look forward to from The Lab…

~ Lots of FREE STUFF

~ Exclusive live events offering intensive hands on training and must attend networking

~ Cutting edge webinars, e-books, video training series and more

~ Informative articles, quizzes, games and serious info

~ How-to’s.. How Not-to’s

~ First looks at new product introductions from your favorite vendors

~ Global trend reports and first hand trend spotting from our global trade show team

~ Hosted tours, trips, and adventures


What are Soft Furnishings?

Anything that is made with or covered by fabric!

~ Window Treatments

~ Upholstery

~ Bedding

~ Soft Accessories (pillows, table linens, wall hangings, throws, etc.)

~ Slipcovers


Why have we launched the Soft Design Lab?

Quite simply this is a passion project for both of us that we felt compelled to bring to life due to the lack of education in the niche of soft furnishings that designers are getting whether it’s in a formal design school environment or through on the job learning.  This lack of education has led to a fear factor experienced by today’s designers when working with soft furnishings.  Because of this fear and the lack of knowledge many designers have stopped focusing on soft furnishings in their businesses and we are now losing market share as an industry to ready made product and worse – to our common enemy – the Naked Window and Bed!   

We love to teach, we are very good at it, and we are happiest when our students leave us with new skills that they can put to use immediately to improve themselves and designers and make a profit


What do you need to do to get started?

Sign up for our email newsletter so we can keep you informed about what great new events, webinars, and other stuff going on here! 

Sign up HERE…


So Glad You Stopped By……

Jackie & Deb



01 May

We Spill to Hadley Court

Jackie and I did a whirlwind tour of High Point earlier this month and ran into Leslie Carothers and Kim Shaver, social media mavens for Hadley Court, one of the premiere design blogs.  Always ready to talk design, Jackie and I gave them our thoughts on what your windows will be wearing in the next 6 months, as well as what are some of the common mistakes we see with window treatment projects.

Here’s the video:

Check out the blog post on Hadley Court , HERE.

01 May

The Greek Key Makes A Bold Statement at High Point


The classic Greek Key motif has burst upon the scene this Spring at High Point market in such a comprehensive way that it seems like all the manufacturers got together and decided that this was “the year” for the classic design element to reign supreme.


The motif was on everything from case goods, to mirrors, fabrics, and trims.


This fantastic table was  a bold usage of the old school element that was given a fresh new interpretation by the addition of the nail heads as trim.  I LOVE it !!


Even lighting was trimmed up with the stuff.


Eastern Accents served up a beautiful collection featuring our favorite fretwork in several different cvaristions.  There use of flat trims and textures was perfection in creating these classic pillows and bedding. .


Mirrors at Global Views sported a circular take on the usually square key.

Greek Key trim tape was used in every conceivable combination and direction on upholstered goods and throw pillows as well as on screens, mirror frames, upholstered tables and lighting.



Mary McDonald used it in several unique ways such as this banding on her beautiful settee that was part of her collection for Guy Chaddock.  It was stunning.


The key was also evident an many different upholstery fabrics but I really fell in love with this trellis version.



My own admiration for the Greek key motif is evident in my drapery hardware collection for Helser Brothers.  These pieces were a “must include” for me when building the collection and I am so happy to see that a collection that I designer almost 3 years ago is so relevant today. I adore my Greek key finial.  It can be hung facing up or down and can also be used as a tie back.


My Greek Key medallion is a super versatile piece of the collection.  I wanted to give designers the maximum flexibility possible for them to use each piece in the collection in a variety of ways.  These medallions have screw holes at all four corners and can be connected with the addition of a small bracket to create an endless combination of designs suitable for whatever your design needs may be.



Here are just a few of the variations that you can choose.







You choose where to attach the appropriate brackets and it’s ready to hang.

Learn more about my collection at Helser Brothers  here and GO GREEK!