An object becomes so much more interesting when a little bit of history is revealed.
- Zak Profera
Like “You had me at hello” in Jerry Maguire, Zak Profera’s new textile line ZAK + FOX had me at the quote above and the photo below. Printed on Belgian linen using water-based inks, Profera has created a versatile new line of interiors fabrics with global inspiration. In particular, a few of the patterns have their roots in Japanese symbols and motifs, which I find particularly appealing. In celebration of his launch, Zak is offering the long bolster pillow on the left in the photo below as my first official giveaway. Entering is easy – the details can be found at the end of this post.
The pillow is made of Jingasa fabric in the snow colorway and reads to me as a modern stylized form of karakusa, the scrolling arabesque vine pattern seen over and over again in Japanese decorative arts. The word jingasa refers to the iron helmets that were used by Edo period soldiers and I managed to find an image of one, complete with karakusa pattern, even before reading Zak’s own personal inspiration for it.
According to Zak, Jingasa ”is an abstract, all over composition that was inspired by a crest seen on an antique helmet. I think I was romanced by the idea of some lone wanderer, so in a way the motif could be seen as marking points on a map or a trail to follow. The blade-style point gives it a bit of a masculine edge and removes it from just feeling like a bunch of polka dots, though I wanted to keep an “artist’s hand” in the pattern by using watery line-work and giving it an inky tone-on-tone effect.”
Next up is his Matsu
pattern which is a classic interpretation of pine, or in this case matsukawa bishi
, pine bark. This stylized version of pine is seen everywhere, from kamon
…to tsuba (sword guards).
Zak ”loves the simplicity of the pine bark motif and wanted to use it in a way that felt modern and different. I spotted a kimono with a dense repeat of flowers that started at the shoulders and drifted downward in an airy pattern; with this concept in mind, “Matsu” became an energetic pattern with an almost ombre-like effect to it. Some have told me it feels a bit like snakeskin (and I agree) but I think the minimalistic nature of the motif keeps it timeless and not trendy.”
Takigawa translates to “waterfall and river” or more loosely as “rapids,” an apt name for this asymmetric stripe. For me, it is the least literal in its Japanese influence and instead reminds me of an antique Indian dhurrie rug.
Takigawa is Profera’s “version of the traditional stripe and uses a style of repeat seen in many Japanese textiles. I wanted to simplify the pattern by keeping the natural linen exposed—it gives it a raw edge that feels untouched, and at the same time it’s super modern. Depending on the color selected, it can feel tailored or relaxed — a quality that I love. I’ve seen it in a few different colors now as I work with other designers to create custom colors for projects and it’s definitely one of the most versatile patterns in the collection; it works just as well in a beach house as it does in a New York City loft.” Personally, I think the exact same thing can be said about a dhurrie rug too!
I can’t resist showing this photo from ZAK + FOX’s beautiful photo shoot at Temple Court in New York City.
An amazing 1883 building that has fallen into the very best kind of decay (original details protected for decades by ugly drywall) Temple Court has become the stuff of urban legend and high-end modeling jobs and is supposedly going to be restored as a hotel. Right now it would make the perfect interior setting for filming Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. For more on Temple Court, there is a wonderful article in The New York Times.
His Katagami fabric is a bit of a pun, considering that katagami stencils are used to make Japanese textiles. Is Katagami made with a katagami? No, but fun thinking about it in a loop.
In writing about his inspiration, Profera “became totally infatuated with these stencils, not necessarily the “traditional” ones with recognizable patterns but more so by the abstract, almost tribal patterns that felt a bit unplaceable — not quite bullet-point “Japanese”. This pattern uses one of the more unique antique stencils I stumbled upon, though quite edited with selections changed and redrawn to feel more composed and harmonious.”
His description reminded me of the unusual stencils in this amazing interior by Steven Gambrel, shown here before.
While I love all the patterns, my personal favorites are Jingasa and Takigawa in the plum colorway. Those of you who know me can’t possibly be surprised by that.
Pillows or cushion to contrast with my Bennison floral in the front entry at the beach?
And for all you Japanese motif junkies out there I have been meaning to mention Snow, Wave, Pine: Traditional Patterns in Japanese Design for ages. It is a beautiful tome, cataloging patterns by category and illustrating them with examples of the finest decorative arts.
There are also six other patterns – Volubilis, Plus, Karun, Palma, Nimrud, and Postage – in numerous colors in the new ZAK + FOX line, all well worth checking out. Which brings us back to the fun part…the giveaway!
You can be the owner of this lovely 11 x 22 inch feather and down filled bolster made of Jingasa fabric in the snow colorway. The pillow is that wonderful long shape that looks perfect in a grouping on a couch, as a lumbar pillow on an armchair or anchoring bed pillows.
As for the details - it is easy. Simply leave a comment on my post telling me which is your favorite pattern (or frankly, any comment) and then click over to the ZAK + FOX website and join Zak’s mailing list (he promises not to barrage you with emails) by entering your email address in the field in the upper right corner of the home page. We will take entries for a week, until 6pm EST, Wednesday, March 28. One entry per person, although I am tempted to beg someone to enter for me. So unfair that in good sportsmanship I cannot enter myself!!
More on Mon…The Polka Dots of Japan
R. P. Miller…New Japanese Inspired Fabrics From Rodman Primack Debut at Hollywood at Home
Japanese-Inspired Fabric Follow-Up…Katsugi, Kiku, Kasumi, Kaba Kaba, Katana and More
Katagami…Perfect Thank You Present Found
Sho-Chiku-Bai…The Three Friends of Winter: Pine, Bamboo and Plum
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