More than a print

 

Interior designer Kim Duease takes a uniquely hands-on approach to her new line of art fabrics.

 

Story by Tess Catlett

 

Arts | July 2014

Colorful Clarksdale native Kim Duease has always had a knack for a design. As far back as childhood, Kim recalls working on home design projects alongside her mother or creating floral arrangements at church. “I do believe in gifts from above,” she says, adding that her affinity for design is one such gift. For the past 20 years, she has used her talents to design interiors across the South through her business Notable Accents, Inc. The brand’s all-inclusive approach allows Kim to tackle everything from accessorizing a given space to designing a home’s interior from the ground up. All the while, she crafts original artwork and selects one-of-a-kind items to sell in her studio. Now, she’s delving into the world of art fabrics. “I never dreamed that at age 50 I would be taking it on,” Kim says, noting that if she knew how much this project would entail, she would have started sooner. What makes her approach unique is her decision to render all of her signature patterns by hand. “It’s a niche that no one has really tapped into,” she says. “It’s more personal.” Kim conceptualizes, designs and paints each fabric on canvas before it’s printed on a wide range of fabrics including silks, Belgian linens and premium cottons. Each fabric is signed, solidifying Kim’s connection to the work. “I’m a big believer in that if you want it done right, you better be hands on.”

 

    Kim launched her line of art fabrics in April and debuted five remarkable collections: Artisanal Ikats, Delta Festival, LOLA, NOLA and Ode to Lilly. Although each collection reveals something in particular about Kim’s personality, it is the Delta Festival that resonates with her roots. Inspired by the juxtapositions posed by the Delta, be it water and land, plenty and want or earthy and elegant, the collection revisits the Delta of Kim’s upbringing. “Some of the fabrics are named after places where I used to romp around, growing up with my brothers,” Kim says. Colorful and decadent, NOLA is also a nod to Kim’s roots. “My sweet 16 was in the garden room in the Commander’s Palace,” she says with a knowing smile. “It’s so dreamy.” LOLA, on the other hand, might just be Kim’s alter ego. Vivacious in nature and always on the move, Lola is the quintessential “It” girl. From Palm Beach to St. Tropez, and everywhere in between, there’s a Lola for everyone.

 

    Despite the sweeping success of her inaugural collections, Kim has no desire to slow down. “I woke up last night with a design on my mind,” she says, her visage etched with frustration. “I know better than to make the mistake of not writing it down.” She went to work in her backyard studio first thing that morning and landed on a color palette with coral, French Blue and French Rose. Although the painted floral print isn’t quite what she had in mind, she says it’s a start. Kim has spent the better part of a week — one of many — focused solely on Nouveau Chintz, her latest collection of art fabrics. Set to launch in Memphis on August 20, the collection is inspired by her studio garden and classic English chintz designs. Kim’s reinterpretation of the floral patterns puts a distinct twist on the timeless print, with brighter hues and saucy color combinations.

 

    She’s also working on the Prismatics collection, and a select number of patterns are already available for purchase. The kaleidoscopic collection appeals to a wistful childlike wonder while showcasing a spectrum of shapes and colors.  But that’s not all. Kim has other projects in the works, as well as a studio to maintain. Because she works in such a creative space, she says it isn’t hard to find inspiration. “I will never in my lifetime design all the things I want to do,” she says. “I never get stuck. I hope that day never comes.”

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