SRQ Magazine | April 2017
In House & Home
Finding her love of textile design as the print director for iconic fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, Charlotte Osterman has since taken up residence in Sarasota’s newest interiors destination, Pansy Bayou, where her entire collection of printed fabrics for the home is on display, ready to be applied to windows, pillows, outdoor loungers or even upholstery for someone’s “awesome yacht.” Distinctive and modern, worldly and vivid, Osterman’s great hanging swaths of printed linens and cottons exude unabashed energy—azure blues, peacock greens, fuchsias and obsidian inks slope and pitch in repeated patterns across the soft fabrics. Amidst her designs, Osterman talks with SRQ about process and global wanderings.
SRQ: How did you get into a career in textile design? Osterman: Diane von Furstenberg taught me everything about printing. I went to school for graphic design, so I wasn’t introduced to textile design until I got the job with her. She took me to China, taught me all about silk screening and all about fabrics. I worked in fashion for around 12 years, but I always wanted to end up in interiors. When I was done with fashion, I decided to pursue my own collection—something with my name on it. I had an archive of prints that I had never used and I found a great mill in Rhode Island that does small runs (around 25-yard bolts of fabric)—it’s one of those mills from the 1800s that’s still functioning.
How do you make the prints? Many of them are hand-drawn or hand-painted. Sometimes I’ll start with a shape or a photograph—I take tons of photographs and I’ve traveled a lot, so I have a whole archive of photos of patterned tiles and woodcarvings, a lot from Asia and Europe. I use those as starting points and then make them more graphic; the traditional motifs get changed a bit and made more modern and graphic. Then I make a repeat in Photoshop.
Where do you draw inspiration for your patterns? One of these prints came from a tile in Vietnam—I took a tiny section of it and flipped it and repeated it on and on. A lot of my decisions are made based on what I think is going to last—there are many prints I have that I’ve saved and not given to designers just looking to do fast fashion. There’s one print here that was taken from this amazing tile museum in Portugal—it’s actually one of my first prints, and I immediately knew it would be great for home.
How do you meld sensibilities from your fashion background and the home-oriented designs? Color wise, I like the same colors in fashion that I do for the home. I’m not a big fan of neutrals. I understand why a lot of people want that serenity in the home, but it’s not my style. I love color, and I love putting colors together. Having the same color on top of the same color isn’t what makes that color look good—it’s the opposing color that you add next to it that makes it stand out. That’s very much a fashion sensibility. I’m really just obsessed with color.