Thomas Paul

Anyone who’s lived in New York will tell you that native New Yorkers are few and far between. You can pick them by the way they’re almost invisible on the subway, magically in front of you in the queue at the laundromat, and, often, intensely private.

Vintage print-obsessed ex-fashion designer Thomas Paul is one such creature.

With a degree in textile design from the Fashion Institute of Technology and an internship with DKNY (one of the toughest gigs to land) under his belt by the mid nineties, Thomas found himself working as a colourist and a designer in a silk mill producing neckwear for Calvin Klein, Bill Blass and DKNY. 

Eventually he launched his own signature neckwear line dubbed ‘digities’.  While it’s relatively easy to find out about Thomas Paul’s interior decoration theme for his own home (‘English country house library’ for the living room and ‘clean and modern’ for the bedroom), it’s a little more difficult to find an image of his original neckwear.  What he has said is this: 

“It is very limiting after a while when men basically only want to wear navy, red, or yellow ties with dots or stripes.”

So in 2001, he vented his creative frustration by launching a range of pillows. Conceived as high-end accessories for the home, as silk scarves and ties are to an outfit, Thomas’s concept was to create design-driven pillows that were affordable without looking it.

 

Made from flax and cotton and printed with bright, nautical and nature-inspired motifs, Thomas Paul’s pillows found a niche as soon as they launched.   Butterflies, pirate ships, lobster-printed pillows were all snapped up, and it wasn’t long before Thomas moved on to melamine plates, stationery, throw rugs and even shower curtains – each with a carefully considered application of the motif.

One of Thomas Paul’s biggest victories isn’t the ongoing success of each new collection, rather it’s his aversion to ‘seasonal’ thinking and his conviction to keep reproducing his prints.  It’s thinking like this that has the power to escalate a small-scale designer into the same league as some of the world’s most iconic makers.

“There are designs that I love that I always said, “Oh, ok this is done, I can’t use this anymore,” but now I am saying, “Ok, maybe I won’t use it for a few seasons, but there will always be the window for that image to come back in a few years, and maybe in a different item, like a rug or a plate,” Thomas has said.

It’s a mindset that he believes is also pervading the fashion world.

“I am looking at what Prada has been doing, which is to bring back some of their signature prints from past seasons, which is saying, “Hey, this was a good print 5 years ago, why is this not good now?”

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Check out Thomas Paul’s flags pillow, anchor pillow and octopus pillow.

With help from Design Public.