Inner soul

Leading US textile designer Lori Weitzner made a quick stop in Israel and gave ‘Weekend’ a few hints on how to use fabric to create moods.

furniture (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Textile design is an age-old trade. The first evidence of woven cloth dates back to 34,000 BCE. The dyed flax fabric found in caves in the Republic of Georgia was a far cry from the vast array of woven, spun, crocheted, knit and pressed materials we live amidst today. And though the textile industry has blossomed, mutated and progressed almost beyond recognition, its essence revolves around the same idea: that cloth is an inherent part of society.
Think about the number of different fabrics that are present in the room you are sitting in. Curtains, upholstery, bedspreads and clothing all fall under the umbrella of textiles. In every moment of any normal day, cloth literally surrounds us. “Every single thing we are wearing, the chairs we are sitting on were all made by a textile person,” explained leading designer Lori Weitzner. Weitzner is the founder of Weitzner Limited, a New York-based design firm specializing in wall coverings, fabrics and passementerie (the art of making elaborate trimmings or edgings). Her list of clients includes: Pallas Textiles, Larsen, The Museum of Modern Art, Calvin Klein, Estee Lauder, Dansk, Endless Knot Rug Company and Lufthansa Airlines. She is the winner of more than 20 industry awards and has work in the permanent collections of museums the world over.
Last month, after attending a design show in Paris, Weitzner decided to make a quick stop in Israel to visit relatives. She has had a connection with Israel since her childhood; however, she paid her last visit to the country 26 years ago.
Sitting on the windy deck of her cousin’s apartment in Ra’anana, Weitzner seemed completely and utterly relaxed. She enjoys the kind of schedule made famous by James Bond films, jet-setting across Europe to meet with clients or collaborators and checking in on her many stores around the US. She is the mother of two small children and an endless source of creativity; however, none of her many responsibilities hamper her sense of inner quiet. This serenity is apparent in all of her designs, and perhaps the reason customers from around the world feel compelled to fill their homes with her work.
“I think everyone gets an emotional connection from design whether they realize it or not,” said Weitzner. “I try not to make this sound hokey, but I try to touch on an emotional level. It sounds hokey but it’s very real and sincere. I think what makes a difference with what we try to do is that it’s where all these senses that we have interact together. We are taught from very early to separate out touch from taste from seeing from smelling. People say that Mozart could see music, that he could taste music. A color orange, I know what that tastes like. When we do our work, we think about engaging all those senses together. And that’s what I mean by an emotional level. It’s not just pretty you actually feel it. It can calm you, uplift you...”
As a teenager, Weitzner set her sights on easels and brushes. “I was a painting major in school,” she said. At the urgings of one of her teachers at Syracuse University, Weitzner began to consider textile design as a possible outlet for her flair with composition and color. “I switched majors. My first design class was mixing colors,” said Weitzner. “I thought, ‘what a joke! All we’re going to do is mix colors?’ Our teacher would give us a color chip and we would have to mix our paints and match it. I learned in those four or five months that color is the most complex thing there is. People who work with me will say that my favorite part of the work is color. You know, blue is blue, but it’s not the same blue.”
This keen eye for color is another of he many assets. While most of us look at the sky at sunset or sunrise and think it’s beautiful, Weitzner can distinguish that sunrise blue is a particularly French kind of blue while American blue is more of a dusky hue. For the past 11 years, she has designed her own line for German textile company Sahco. At the time, the company had already established two popular lines and was searching for someone to create a warmer, more organic collection. Her breakthrough into the European market brought with it a new set of demands, mainly to understand the color palette of other countries.
“Part of the directive from Sahco was not to make an American collection. It was to make an international collection, which is not easy to do. My biggest challenge is to do something that is hugely successful all over the world. That French blue is not in my vocabulary, but they love it in Europe. I have to put that blue in my work and still have it be Lori Weitzner,” she explained.
Another important element in her work is nature. Drawing inspiration from artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, who sculpts mind-blowing shapes out of all organic materials, Weitzner seamlessly blends the outside world into interior design. “What better way is there to bring the senses together than to blend nature and design,” she said.
In her own home, Weitzner uses pillows and wall trimmings to create a comfortable, homey feel. Her favorite item is a velvet pillow that she bought years ago in Venice. “If you can’t afford to buy the couch that you want, make sure that you have those pillows that really speak to you. And if you can’t wallpaper the entire home, do just one wall. I’m not saying this just because I’m a textile designer. To me, everything in a space is important: the lighting, the furniture, the accessories and the art. There is something magical about textile. The textile is the soul of the space,” she said.
Lori Weitzner’s designs are available in Israel at Renby Home Couture. For more information, visit