Material Girls

Tamara Matthews-Stephenson and Susan Young at Hope Lodge gala

The founders of Root Cellar Designs, Tamara Matthews-Stephenson (left) and Susan Young (right) at the Hope Lodge Gala.

When an interior designer extraordinaire and an artistically minded fashion designer team up to produce a line of textiles, step back aesthetes: this is going to be a fine thing to watch! This just happens to be the Productrazzi caveat for the founders of Root Cellar Designs, material girls Tamara Matthews-Stephenson and Susan Young.

Root Cellar Designs

Root Cellars Design lively textiles for the home

A vibrant napkin made with Root Cellar Designs Fig pattern in a lavender colorway.

The effort has combined Susan’s fashion flair, her fine attention to detail and a stellar set of designing skills with Tamara’s astute eye, sense of color and demand for the utmost quality in workmanship. This duo brings a vision that is unique to textile design, as it is based upon a modern sensibility and a fresh take on color while the foundation for each pattern is born of the past. Products include tablecloths, napkins, table runners, decorative pillows, cocktail napkins, coasters and tea towels.

A Bit About Susan Young

Root Cellar Designs Man pillow with its mysterious feel

The Man pillow in the Root Cellar Designs Fashion Forward Collection.

Susan is a seasoned entrepreneur, a talented fashion designer, a textile designer and an artist. Her fashion label Launch by Susan Young debuted more than five years ago on a rooftop runway at the Empire Hotel during the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Manhattan. Since this premiere, the go-getter has created four dress collections each year, and produced fashion shows in New York City and Boston.

The dashing dude on the Man table runner by Root Cellar Designs

The Man table runner in the Root Cellar Designs Fashion Forward Collection.

Being as meticulous that she is, Susan custom-designed all of the fabrics for each season’s collections, proving that her attention to detail is keen. Her designs have been sold in boutiques throughout New York City and New England, and Launch by Susan Young has been celebrated in the press. The fashion industry can’t seem to praise Susan’s innovative and cutting-edge style and vision enough!

A Bit About Tamara Matthews-Stephenson

This Root Cellar Designs pillow is brightly decorative with its yellow lemons

Lemons pop from a geometric background in this pillow by Root Cellar Designs.

Tamara is a graduate of Parsons School of Design, a professional interior designer and an award-winning author of the popular design and lifestyle blog Nest by Tamara. Her coverage of interior design and entertaining on the site has amassed her a dedicated following of over 750,000 readers who stop by regularly to stay in-the-know about the design sources Tamara unearths and shares with her readers. Whether it is sleuthing the history behind a design aesthetic or sharing the latest and greatest off-the-beaten-track find, this trendsetting writer has a nose for what’s hot now and what’s likely going to be on fire down the road.

Root Cellar Designs decorated this celebratory table

A Lenox Hill Gala Table decorated by Root Cellar Designs.

Thanks to the variety of events Tamara covers as a writer and hosts as a designer, she has affectionately gained the title the Tabletop Queen. It’s quite an honor given the design industry is made up of tastemakers vying for attention, though no surprise because she brings creative ideas, sumptuous recipes and luxurious entertaining tips to her clients and readers while demonstrating how to be a hostess with panache aplenty. As a professional interior designer, Tamara has honed her design-eye for decades during travels from Maison and Objet in Paris to the Hamptons. Everywhere she goes, she is an ace at uncovering inspiring products and ideas that express a global insider’s point of view.

Root Cellar Designs: Made in America

Root Cellar Designs sells vibrantly bright Fabric by the Yard.

Root Cellar Designs sells fabric by the yard.

Keeping a commitment to the “Made in America” mantra, Tamara and Susan draw and then digitally create their patterns, which are printed on a linen/cotton canvas fabricated in the New York City garment district. The linen/cotton combination is made up of 55% linen and 45% combed cotton. The fabric is 54-inches wide and the thread count is 100-by-48, which makes the all-purpose natural-fiber fabric appropriate for upholstery, table linens, pillows and curtains.

The Fig Napkin in a purple colorway by Root Cellar Designs

The Fig Napkin in a purple color way is colorful on any table.

Tapping into the richly illustrative history of the decorative arts, Tamara and Susan express their love for antiques with their designs but not in a predictable way. They are drawn to unusual color combinations and fresh, innovative patterns they cull from time-honored motifs. It’s not a surprise that the company grew organically out of philanthropy—it was launched in April 2015—because these are two women who like to give back. Invited to participate in design-industry fundraisers, the pair took on projects for gala events, donating wares while designing tabletop and room vignettes at venues in the New York City area. Voila! Four collections were born—Fig & Lemon; Metamorphosis; Fashion Forward; and, new this past October, East/West.

Material Girls Giving Back

Hope Lodge Gala table decorated by Tamara and Susan of Root Cellar Designs.

Hope Lodge Gala table decorated by Tamara and Susan of Root Cellar Designs.

Beyond how beautiful the Root Cellar Designs products are, it is the duo’s philanthropic commitment that impresses me the most. The latest fundraising event in which the pair participated was the Hope Lodge Holiday Bash at The Harmonie Club in New York City. They decorated a table for the black-tie gala to represent The Netherlands, using their Willow fabric as a jumping off point for the inspiration, which harkens back to the Blue Willow antique plate pattern they feel is representative of the artistry of the work that came out of historic Holland.

Hope Lodge Gala Table detail.

The detail of the Hope Lodge Gala table illustrates the Dutch theme.

The event at The Harmonie Club, one of New York’s oldest and most prestigious private clubs, celebrated the efforts of the American Cancer Society to provide soulful surroundings for people seeking treatment outside their home towns—help and hope for patients and their caregivers when home is far away, as the ACS phrases it. Each Hope Lodge is free to patients and caregivers alike, allowing “lodgers” the opportunity to focus solely on healing. I was surprised to learn that there are now 32 Hope Lodge locations throughout the United States. You can find out more on the Hope Lodge page on the American Cancer Society’s website.

Colorful Tea Towels by Root Cellar Designs

Tea Towels by Root Cellar Designs that I ordered for holiday gifts.

I would like to thank Tamara and Susan for their generous spirits and to remind you that if you are still on the hunt for unique holiday gifts, you can peruse the Root Cellar Designs pop-up shop where many of their linens and pillows are on sale. Give me a shout if you snag a treasure, whether for yourself or someone on your gift-giving list, okay? I bought two tea towels (in the image above) and they are so pretty I’m not sure I’ll be able to give them away as I had intended!

Text of Material Girls © design blogger Saxon Henry, all rights reserved. Saxon Henry is an author, poet and journalist based in New York City. Books include Anywhere But Here, Stranded on the Road to Promise and Four Florida Moderns. She also maintains The Diary of an Improvateur as a platform for her literary travel and design adventuring, and is a columnist on Architizer.

8 thoughts on “Material Girls

  1. I love how Root Cellar has taken great Victorian & historical botanical imagry & modernized it
    through color palette & scale.
    Just wonderful work.
    Bravo to them & to you for your insight in giving them this Productrazzi placement.

    • I know, right, Zina! I’m not surprised you would appreciate their rich aesthetic given your refined tastes. Add to their historical references the fact that everything is just so kicky and fun and I was sold! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

  2. Thank you kindly Saxon Henry for this story. We are very grateful for your kind words and we hope you enjoy your holidays. Keep up this great work over here on Productrazzi! xxo tamara

    • Thanks for the Kudos, Tamara; it’s a no-brainer to write about amazing products like yours. The only problem with the kitchen towels I bought is I can’t bring myself to let the beautiful fabrics get dirty!!!! I hope you have a wonderful holiday season as well.

  3. Thank you so much Saxon Henry for such a wonderful profile on our new company! It means so much to us to have been featured on your blog. It’s friends like you who are so instrumental in helping us get the word out!
    Happy holidays and here’s to a peaceful new year for all of us!

    • You are most welcome, Susan; the coverage is well deserved. The combination of the varied color palette–lush when bright (Fig in purple) and powdery when muted (Man), the historical references, and the quality of the products represent my triple crown win for design! You two keep up the great work!

  4. I love Root Cellar! I’m drawn to vintage ephemera and I love to use a lot of color, so these caught my eye immediately. I think some pillows may be in my future. Kudos to keeping everything Made in USA, it’s not so difficult when you put your mind to it!

    • I’m with you on the pillows, Kerry Anne; I have my eye on several of them, as well. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read and comment.

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