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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.