Interview: Paula Prass on Summer Soirée

Mary Beth of Supafine, reporting.

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Images courtesy of Paula Prass”

It would appear that Paula Prass has no need of sleep. In addition to her latest fabric line, Summer Soiree, for Michael Miller Fabrics (the follow-up to the striking Flights of Fancy), Paula also has a home decor line (called Paula Prass Designs) and a children’s decor line (called Mimi’s Collection), in addition to her work as an artist and interior designer. That is what I call one busy, talented lady. (A busy and talented lady whose living room is probably drop dead gorgeous, amirite?)

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(GREAT. I used up all my parentheses in the first paragraph AGAIN. Jeez.)

Summer Soiree is an adeptly-named, festively-themed collection of bold, graphic geometrics, bright lacy florals and zesty animal prints in hues that are both hot and cool. Paula agreed to pause for a few moments to tell us more about it.

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You are obviously a very creative person with an eye for beauty. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into this field?

Well,+I guess I’d say it was a combination of accidental and inevitable destiny.+I tend to refer to myself as “severely creative.” My artistic abilities were not encouraged as a child, so as a young mom I tried my hand at just about everything. I seriously devoured art, sewing, quilting, even cake decorating,+but finally settled into a career as an interior designer.+From there I started manufacturing my own line of wall art and children’s accessories, then expanded to home decor.+While at the New York and Atlanta Gift Markets my customers would ask if I had fabrics to go with my other designs.+ At first I’d chuckle, because I was used to people saying, “If you made this in purple, I’d buy it”.+But after quite a few comments about fabrics I started thinking, “Why not?”+I’m so glad that Kathy Miller of Michael Miller Fabrics thought the same thing when she saw my portfolio.

Your Summer Soiree is so bold and graphic, but with a lot of different-feeling prints going on. I remember when we chatted at Quilt Market you told the story of how Kathy Miller’s bouquet for you (after you broke your “creative arm”) was the inspiration for the line as a whole. Now let’s get a little more specific. Can you tell me a little bit about each print and the inspiration behind them?

I knew I wanted to have+a floral this time and show a bit more of who I am as a designer.+I love contrast,+bold color and pattern.+Sitting there+helplessly staring at that black vase with white polka dots and gorgeous coral, orange and bright pink roses+I immediately+could envision the endless possibilities.+Blame it on the pain medication and no vacation+fun for a very long time, but I envisioned those+vases sitting+on skirted tables at a colorful+outdoor party; hence Summer Soiree.

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NOSEGAY and CENTERPIECE: Large florals, lace tablecloths, smaller flowers everywhere, on tables, in urns, gardens and on sundresses.+The life of the party.

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CANOPY STRIPES: Party tents, awnings, lawn furniture.

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PARTY ANIMAL, CHEVRON, HOUNDSTOOTH, CUFFLINK: These are all fun patterns I was already using in my accessory line and they wanted to join in on the fun, too.

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MINTS: Imagine glass bowls of colorful candies throughout.

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BEST FRIENDS: You know … diamonds.+ I take mine to all the parties.

The other part I love about this line is the geographical names of the colorways — Miami, for instance. Do these locations have special meaning for you?

I am highly visual by nature, so when+I hear a name or place I tend to add a visual in my mind.+ Maybe everyone does that.

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MIAMI: So with that said, a few years ago I+accompanied my+Jennifer to Miami. She was there on business and I got to see her in action as an Apparel+Director of Product Development and Design researching trends, fabrics, and silhouettes.+Miami was colorful, spicy and+warm+with a+never ending party atmosphere. It was hot, hot, hot!

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MANHATTAN: I’ve stayed in Manhattan a few times (actually I was there on business when I broke my arm).+I especially love the city lights at night.+The blacks and grays mixed with the bright red, yellow and white lights scream, “Let’s Party people!”

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NANTUCKET: I’ve never been,+but I do have a vivid imagination.+The aqua waters and summery colors and smells are what I dream of on cold dreary days. We all can’t get to Nantucket for a summer soiree, but we can bring it into our homes and clothing, can’t we?

Your first collection for Michael Miller was Flights of Fancy. How has your style changed since then, if at all?

As an interior designer I don’t like to be pigeonholed.+I have a broad range of styles that+I enjoy, but classic with a twist is probably what best+describes my+taste.

What is your preferred method of designing?

I would absolutely prefer hand painting, but because I haven’t known how to best change color, scale and repeat I have been mixing both digital and original artwork.+ Now that I have a better handle on the process I plan to experiment more in the future.

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As a fabric designer, what do you find to be the hardest part about your job? What’s your favorite part?

Keeping up with technology is definitely the+hardest.+Seeing the reaction people have to my designs or getting emails from proud and excited sewers wanting to share what they made is such a high.+It sometimes+actually gives me goosebumps.

I loved that blog post you wrote (“stepping away from the studio“) — what else do you like to do when you’re not working?

Okay, that’s kinda the problem; I work A LOT.+But with a job like mine, I spend day and night creating and+designing and+I have a hard time separating+the two.+Let’s just say for the sake of answering your question … I love doing just about anything with my husband. We truly enjoy+working together on projects, fixing up the house or being with the grandkids.+I sometimes join him on business trips that are near the ocean or water since we don’t see much of that in the midwest.

And — did I see that you’re working on patterns? Can you tell us a little bit about that, or about your new agreement with Oopsy Daisy?

Yes, my patterns will be a variety of handbags, home decor, children’s and women’s clothing.+Oopsy Daisy will now carry some of my artwork, freeing me up to do more creating and less manufacturing.

Anything I forgot to ask?

This is a very exciting time in my life right now and I can honestly say it’s the most satisfying, as well.+The people I have met in this industry are by far the kindest, most sincere and encouraging folks I have ever worked with.+Thank you all from the bottom of my heart+for giving me this opportunity to express my creativity in the best way I know how.+My hope is that you continue to enjoy what I create at least as much as I enjoy making it.

Thank you so much, Paula! Watch for more from Paula Prass, including a more playful line due in time for Fall Market!

6 Comments

  1. Karen says:

    awww, what a nice interview!

    Well done!

  2. Jona says:

    What a fun interview!! I can’t wait to see what Paula is planning next!

  3. Tori says:

    love paula! her new line is like candy to me, i could just eat every piece up! i really love the zebra print in different colors :)

  4. Mary Beth says:

    Thanks for the commments, everyone. Paula was such fun to interview.

    Check out her blog for a sneak peek of the new line!

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