16 Jun

2015 Colormix Color Forecast: Optimistic Odyssey


Now that 2014 is halfway through, watch for trend forecasters to spill what they are seeing in their crystal balls for 2015 and beyond. One of the first is Sherwin Williams; as they  unveiled their 2015 Colormix forecast last week at Neocon.  Jackie Jordan, SW’s Creative Color Director recently wrote a bit about the process leading up to the final selections:

Every February, the Sherwin-Williams trend team convenes in a large conference room in our Cleveland, Ohio, headquarters to start work on the yearly color forecast. We share our most significant research, deliberate over tremendous amounts of information, synthesize it into a set of well-defined concepts, then use them to validate the color and design directions for the coming months and year.

Despite the fact that it’s so dreary, overcast and frigid outside — or maybe because of it — the conference room really heats up, fueled by passionate conversation and spirited debate. Materials, imagery and color samples fairly fly around the room, as we assemble seemingly infinite arrangements. Success comes when we finally, finally — and collectively — agree which drivers affecting future design trends are meaningful, relevant and validated; that the design philosophies and sensibilities of the industries’ influencers support the drivers; and, most important, that our chosen hues are reflective of the consolidated findings behind each color story.

This year’s conversations wandered in so many different directions — from outer space to under the oceans, from Africa to Brazil, from Japan to Hawaii. Research covered just about everything: architecture, community, urban development, economics, consumer behaviors, sporting events, fashion, craft, culture, change, astronomy, growth, balance, unexpected humor and serendipity. And of course photography, print, pattern, texture, materials and product design played important roles in helping to reveal the upcoming color stories.

Here is the 2015 Colormix forecast starting with Unrestrained:



Life is a Carnival, and we’re celebrating: from bold, ethnic-inspired colors, designs and crafts to the Bohemian lifestyle. But today’s wandering nomads aren’t starving artists — they’re fusing the carefree spirit of the gypsy with the sophistication of the jet set.

Artisans and purveyors of luxury goods are getting in the spirit, putting an irreverant spin on their work. South Africa and its colorful art scene exert a strong pull, while the 2016 Summer Olympics will rivet the world’s attention on Rio de Janeiro.



“To boldly go where no man has gone before.” That phrase was fantasy when it was born during the Sputnik era. Today we’re living it. The sci-fi dreams of the past have become everyday reality — from space tourism to undersea resorts. No longer confined to our earthly plane, we look to the beyond and find colors that are supernatural and magical.

Unusual atmospheric events, including a decade-best aurora borealis and a rare sequence of “blood moons,” will keep our focus on the heavens in the months ahead.


sw-img-buoyant-hdrHappy days are here again! We’ve weathered the recession. Our revived good spirits echo the optimism that followed World War II, when GIs returned home from exotic locales. Like that era, we’re expressing ourselves with bright florals, but today, our fascination with the tropics runs deeper. We’re exploring the secrets of the rainforest, applying the medicinal and cosmetic benefits of its botanical bounty. We’re looking to the natural world in other ways, too, incorporating green spaces into even dense urban environments — trusting in nature to keep our spirits bright.



Like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon, we’re poised for change. As modern life and technology rush at us, we seek an oasis where we can find balance, mindful living and tempo giusto (the “right time,” or the steady, regular beat of the heart).

We look to earth and sky for inspiration, finding raw beauty in striations and gently blurred hues and patterns. Artisans break the mold, creating objects that aren’t what they seem. Shapes are layered and deconstructed. In this moment, silence is the greatest luxury, and metamorphosis is the mother of invention.

08 Jun

Window Fashion Inspiration from Kips Bay


I love showhouses.  As a participant they are a grind, but as a visitor I always walk away with some bit of inspiration or a new idea or way to do something. Isn’t that why we go?   My thing is window treatments, so I am the one peeking behind the panel to see how it was hung or lifting up a hem to check out construction.  This year Kips Bay did not disappoint when it came to window fashion inspiration. I was really happy to see more going on at the windows than a pair of stationery panels hung from a rod and rings. Been there done that– way too many times.

So is the layering I saw  a signal that windows will play a bigger role when  designing a room in the coming months? Let’s hope so!

This year’s Kips Bay Decorator Show House made an unprecedented venue shift as it took over Manhattan’s quintessential mansion at 457 Madison Avenue, The Mansion on Madison. Situated in the heart of Manhattan, the famed building which was originally the north wing of the famous Villard House, is connected by a grand courtyard to adjacent luxury hotel, The New York Palace and steps from St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Designed and built by architecture firm McKim, Mead & White in 1884, the Renaissance-inspired Villard Houses were constructed by Henry Villard, President of the Northern Pacific Railway, to serve as six private yet connected brownstones. Renovated in 2011, the six-story and 26,190 square-foot Mansion on Madison boasts a grand staircase, landmarked hallways with marble floors, 16-foot high ceilings with elegant moldings, multiple Italian marble fireplaces, and a carved paneled room with barrel-vaulted ceilings. Here are my favorite inspirational installations at Kips Bay:

Alexa Hampton’s Sitting Room Folly


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Moroccan  inspired cornices over panels frame the arch windows of the room. Contrast woven metallic jacquard banding is found on both the drapery leading edges and hems and the cornice. The scale of the cornice is masterful; making the window become a focal point in this room.


What you might have missed is the smocking tape pelmet at the top of each cornice.

Darryl Carter’s Sitting Room

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Darryl Carter was inspired by the collected home concept and used it as a starting point to build a wonderfully layered room. I love the canvas between the windows and his take on “combination treatments” mixing paneled shutters and linen Roman shades with banding on the sides.

Young Huh’s Moody, Glamorous Powder Rooms



Young Huh transformed a freight area into a ladies and gentleman’s powder rooms. The wall covering is hand blocked fabric . ( See two of the blocks used to print the fabric on the window sill.) The wainscoting in patent leather. With a lot going on, Huh kept the window treatment simple; it feels like a kimono to me with draped pelmets banded at the hem for definition.

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Inagro’s Study in Contrasts

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First off – gorgeous Palladian windows. Second- I love the twist on traditional sheers and panels by using flat scrim panels with weighted hem bars. I love the contemporary mood it sets and how the light filters through shadowing the window architecture.

Juan Montoya’s Untitled Living Area

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Same windows and similar look , but this time Montoya turns the scrim into a flat Romans and adds inset banding on each side in black.

Kristen Kelli Living Area

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Kristen Kelli are know for their love of gold mixed with pops of bold color. These geometric stepped cornices are edged on all four sides in gold nailheads accenting the metallic grasscloth wallcovering .

Cullman and Kravis’ Bedroom

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Love the appliqued band on these panels in Cullman and Kravis’ bedroom.

William Gregoris’ Library

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With Saint Patrick’s Cathedral across the street and the windows overlooking it; Gregoris took inspiration from late Cardinal Spellman. As his rep, Sara Farevaag, noted, Spellman was “a supporter of Richard Nixon, Joseph McCarthy, and Broadway choir boys,” so the ultra dark and sumptuous reds (claret, burgundy, cerise, Chinese and blood reds are all here) ring with an almost disturbing opulence.”

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Almost an after thought , because there is a lot going on in this room- the draperies are red silk with large bands on the hems and leading edges in Royal Stewart tartan. The taped headings are also faced with the tartan and the treatment is held back with antlers.

Matthew Quinn’s Kitchen

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Last but not least,  I LOVE these valances by Matthew Quinn inspired by St. Pat’s and made from pipe organs.  They are mounted into sheet metal frames and inside mounted. Genius!

What’s your favorite?





06 Jun

Secret Source: Caleidoscope Color


Caleidoscope Color is a  one of the new 21st Century collaborative design tools. They create the designs, and you create the color! It’s a resource for professionally designed home-furnishing  textile designs (and wallpaper, too!); custom colored specifically for your clients erom your artistic vision. Jackie and I came across Caleidoscope Color at Design Bloggers Conference and loved the concept. You pick from their library of designs and then custom color and personalize them to your client’s color scheme- something traditionally manufactured and stocked fabrics can’t do. This is a great way to ease into building your own signature products line; something near and dear to SDL’s heart. Plus it hits the mark when talking to your clients about the tech driven design or uber personalization trends.


Caleidoscope Color  ‘stocks’ designs digitally on their website library. This provides you with the ability to design your creative color vision, and showcase your soft design talent. Fabrics are digitally printed on high quality ground cloths.  The Caleidoscope website provides an intuitive tool to create your own custom colors – it’s  like  ‘paint by numbers painting.’


Their studio is really focused on the Art of Design driven by technology.  They design all fabrics and wallpapers from hand-drawn or painted artwork to the digital version to the finished end product. Caleidoscope Color’s Founder and Principal Designer, Heather Elisabeth, has 20+ years of experience designing high-end home furnishing textiles and wallpapers for firms such as Cowtan Tout, Pierre Frey, Schumacher, Lee Jofa, Kravet, and Marvic. She directs the Caleidoscope Studio and  creates designs from her original artistic visions and inspirations through to the finished product. It’s a win-win for designers.

Bonus: Heather and her team are offering our Soft Design lab readers this special offer.  Just Because? Just because you’re a fab soft designer!


 What is Digital Printing?

Digital printing refers to methods of printing from a digital-based image directly to a variety of media ( printing substrates) like paper, vinyl, fabrics, tile, etc.  It usually refers to professional printing of  small-run jobs that are printed using large-format and/or high-volume laser or inkjet printers. Digitally printed home furnishing products  let you customize the design, scale, and color; as well as  offer you short lead times, less costly set-up charges and very small minimums because it’s printed on demand.


05 Jun

Soft Niche Marketing ~ Dorm Room Decor

He Everyone,  Jackie Here,

Pottery Barn Teen

Summer is here and the kids are out just getting out of school but in just a couple of months the mad dash to get ready for that move to college will begin.  Having gone through this process myself a couple of times I can tell you that I was shocked at how much money I and other parents are spending on their children’s dorm room decor.

The average extra long twin bedding ensemble purchased online with mattress pad, throw and decorative pillow is around $650.  Add in a decorative headboard, beanbag chair or tuffet, towels, shower curtain, cork board, storage,  and any number of other cute accessories and your little Einsteins college crib could cost  upwards of $2000.  Just take a look at the few of the following sites to see how profitable this niche can be:

www.potterybarnteen.com    www.dormsuite.com    www.amdorm.com   www.decor2urdoor.com    www.leighdeuxdorm.com

The problem that I have with this expense is that virtually everything I bought for my kids  disintegrated after the first year because it was made using cheap materials that were not pre-washed and were poorly constructed.

Summer is usually a slow time for many of us as our clients are on vacation or busy with kids out of school.  Why not take this opportunity to fill that gap by providing turn key dorm design packages to your clients.  So many times we forget to actively market seasonal opportunities to our customers and we give away that valuable business to retail and online resources.

We have all of the skills  and resources in place to provide this valuable service to our customers while giving them a superior product and personalized, one of a kind design. Why not put together a package for the customer who is looking for quality, product that will last more than one semester?

We love these sorority and fraternity themed pillows by www.decor2urdoor.comThey also provide custom soft headboards that match their bedding ensembles.

Whether you choose to offer dorm design services or not, now is the time to think out of the box and market your services creatively to your clients with the seasons and life events in mind.  Don’t wait for clients to come to you – bring them something they can’t resist!

Have a Great Day,




02 Jun

What’s Trending in Decorative Pillows


For several years, it seems that the only variation to decorative pillow design is the fabric choice or what we call pattern driven design- standard pillow forms in poly or down mixtures; covered in solid or graphic patterns with knife edges or maybe cording . B Decorative pillows at the higher end have surface embellishment of trims and fabrics applied to add dimension or pattern. Where we’re moving is toward engineered design- the look of the pillow is dictated by the structural pattern of the design.  Fabric is combined, cut and sewn in a specific way to achieve  the desired look. With in this overriding trends are several themes we’ve spotted when it comes to what’s trending in decorative pillows. Here’s our cliff notes version.

  • Creating pattern by manipulation- particularly stripes and trims
  • Dressmaker details focusing on frayed and exposed edges
  • Notions taking the spotlight like buttons, zippers, buckles and toggles
  • The outdoors comes in- extending product durability and longevity
  • Personalization
  • Artisanal Collections- both figuratively and literally

To get the full monty , watch out Take Ten video below:

01 Jun

Profit Through Signature Soft Product Sales Class Outline is Here!

Hi all,  Jackie here…..

Today  I’m thrilled to be able to share more in depth info on my fantastic new class on designing and selling your own line of signature soft products which I will be teaching along with my partner in crime Deb Barrett at the Atalanta’s Mart at the Deco Zone on July 7 from 1 – 6 pm.

Many of you probably know that I design my own signature product lines and work closely with manufacturers to develop their product lines.

You may also know that I have written four books and have helped build the massive design image library for Studio from Minutes Matter Inc with all of my illustrations from my books.  But did you know that books and software are considered signature products?  There are so many ways to distinguish yourself and elevate your personal and business brand through the development of signature products.  It has never been easier or more profitable for an individual designer or small retailer to capitalize on this lucrative segment of our industry.

Signature or Private Label product offerings are not just for super star designers anymore.  You can be the master of your own destiny in a new and exciting field.

Here is the class outline for our half day event in Atlanta  – it is so full of information, step by step, instruction, resources, and even one on one consultation time with Jackie, that you will walk away with everything you need to get started.



July 7, 2014 1 – 6 pm AMERICAS MART – ATLANTA

Take advantage of new technology and services available today to easily design, manufacture, and sell your own “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, upholstery, 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!

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. Many of these new resources eliminate the need to buy inventory or stock product. Jackie will show you how to utilize print and produce on demand services that 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. 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.

Here are just some of the product categories that will be discussed:
Home Décor Textiles and Accessories
Wall Art
What are signature custom products?
Soft Goods
Hard Goods
How offering your own signature products can generate residual income.
Why are signature products a necessary part of today’s successful designers arsenal?
Designer case studies – a lesson in visionary thinking.
Product selection – deciding what products are right for you?
Choosing your level of customization.
Curated designs
Semi-custom designs
Fully original, custom, designs
Copyright Law – what you must know to avoid infringement.
The Basics – what skills do you need to be able to design your own signature products?
Research and Development
Design Acumen
Artistic Talent
Graphic Design, Photoshop, Computer Skills
Overcoming your skill shortage through outsourcing.
Graphic Design
Art Rendering and Illustration
3D Product Development and modeling
Packaging Design
Order Fulfillment
Point of Sale Systems
Source Directory – How to find the right manufacturer for your business.
Order fulfillment – How do you get your product to the customer.
Selling Online – exploring DIY full service websites versus building your own independent site.
Marketing your products through:
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
Industry Hub Sites: Houzz, Todl, etc.
Trade Showrooms
Trade Shows
Capitalize on your signature products to elevate your business brand.
Create Your Personal Plan of Action and Goal Chart.

You will come away from this class with:

1.       A detailed and comprehensive overview of the DIY signature product development and design marketplace including key design and development sources, manufacturers listings, and fulfillment options that will allow you to design , produce, market, sell, and make a profit from,  private signature product sales.
2.      We will guide you through the myriad of possible product options available to you and help you determine what are the key products or product for you and your particular business.
3.      You will develop a plan of action that you can put in place immediately to start you on your way to product development, production, and sales.  You will receive a one hour phone consultation with Jackie after the event to discuss your strategy and implementing your action plan.
As part of your class materials you will receive:
Digital Resource Guide and Directory
Digital Outsourcing Guide and Directory
Class Notebook and Digital Manual
Swag Bag ( full of Goodies)
One hour phone consultation with Jackie after the seminar.
 $499.00 per person  ~  Wine and Cheese Reception Immediately Following the Class.

Because of the intensive nature of this class and the amount of material we will cover over the course of five hours,  the class size is limited,  so be sure to sign up now!
Don’t miss out on this valuable opportunity to get ahead of the pack and start designing your signature products today.  
I can’t wait to see you all in Atlanta!!!