Shopping and creating textiles is an interesting business. From the Turkish rug mongers who throw down their various selections, to the rows and rows of yard fabrics in Asia, you have to be able to enjoy the sport of finding colour that dances on threads, imagining them into pretty tables and decorative floors. You have to enjoy touching and feeling fabrics as you peruse for good thread counts, art-full colour and sheen quality.
While the art of textile shopping and manufacturing is often lost in the non-tactile internet shop, there are still a few textile merchants who understand how the look, feel and texture of the cloth all contribute to its beauty. One of these people is April Cornell.
A World Full of Design Inspiration
Growing up in the suburbs of Montreal, April Cornell spent more than a third of her life overseas and about 30 years travelling the world. Her design references hail from far-flung locations like Paris, India, Portugal and Hong Kong. “I get much of my inspiration and style from observing how other people are living and what they are feeling in cities and towns around the globe.” April now resides in Burlington, Vermont, near the shores of picturesque Lake Champlain.
Like her far flung artful influences, April Cornell’s designs have an artistic sense that April believes is unique to the marketplace. “It’s unusual for a retailer, manufacturer or licensed designer to be art-driven…For me, I think that’s largely due to my background in — and love of — textiles. As with an artist’s canvas or a bolt of cloth, I start my designs with the big picture and work my way down to the details.”
The result is a unique design style that has been crafted by a combination of international influences, including India’s tradition of fabric embellishment, painting and tailoring, the atmosphere of a European cafe and the simple shape of a Chinese mandarin collar. Together, they help April create a ”lifestyle” that is colourful and exotic, yet decidedly familiar.
Establishing Connections and Inspired by Nature
April has a knack for establishing connections with the folks who enjoy her designs. As an independent, original thinker she creates products that make one’s home feel pretty, welcoming and interesting, but with a hint of the unexpected. “I like my designs to fashion an oasis, a place of beauty, calm, original ideas and uplifting things that make them feel great.” April is committed to designs that are quintessentially artistic in character, highly detailed, and that add meaning to people’s lives.
Using nature’s colour palette, lines, forms and shapes as her guides, April’s designs are an inspiration to make an occasion of every day. She credits nature for providing the backdrop and the muse for many of her creations. “Flowers, leaves and birds are the recurring motif in all elements of my merchandise and designs,” she says. “I love where nature takes me. Even when I can’t be outside, I bring nature indoors with flowers and nature-inspired textiles and objects.”
A Passion for Giving
April has many philanthropic passions including caring for the people in the company’s core production region in India. She actively supports foundations that fund programs to empower women and help impoverished children living in ghettos and on the streets. “Each of the projects I’m involved with is unique and interesting. It gives me such satisfaction to know that, together, we’re making a difference.”
That ability to “give something back” is one of the driving forces behind April’s work. “I find it so rewarding. The different people I’ve met around the world have influenced my whole perspective on how important giving back truly is. It’s a privilege to be involved in local, national or international projects and see the change that can occur in children, women, men and communities.”
Art in Action
Every seen tablecloth screen printing in action? Check out this little clip from April Cornell’s factory in India: https://www.youtube.com/v/T7YqVeBKQV8?autoplay=1&rel=0&enablejsapi=1&playerapiid=ytplayer
Bringing together the inspiring, the artful and the colourful. Zocalo is pleased to feature some of April Cornell’s new Spring collection. As April says, “Live beautiful. Be beautiful. Because you already are.”