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Casa Interview: Jill Sanford Burrows

Textile designer Jill Sanford Burrows creates beautiful, modern bedding designs that mix perfectly in any number of homes, whether they're more traditional or more modern in nature. I've been a fan of her immaculate, Italian-made bedding for a while now, so I was thrilled when I had the chance to chat with her about her work, inspirations, and future plans.

CasaSugar: How did you get started in the world of textile design?

Jill Sanford Burrows: I was living and working in London and found myself wanting to design something more tangible than what I had been designing in my career as a graphic designer. I decided to take a few fashion design classes, but I kept being drawn to home furnishings because I was so inspired by what I was seeing in London and around Europe. With all the great home design out there, though, I wasn’t finding bedding that hit just the right note. So I eventually decided to take the knowledge from the fashion design classes and use it to create the bedding line. I love that with bedding, I get to create things that people will live with day to day. I’ve also become obsessed with educating myself, and others who’ll listen, on what makes a good textile.

For the rest of the interview,


CasaSugar: What design movements do you relate to? Any particular design period that you love (besides modern design)?

Jill Sanford Burrows: I can pretty much find aspects of any design movement to appreciate. I’m inspired by the details, take pictures and notes, and refer back to them when I’m designing.

I literally had tears in my eyes when I saw Gaudi’s Art Nouveau Parc Guell in Barcelona. I couldn’t believe that someone thought about architecture in such over-the-top, organic terms.

I love seeing design that goes all the way, that leaves no question about the mood that was aimed for. It can be the elaborate interiors of the Renaissance (the Medici family really knew how to layer it on!) or the dedication to every Arts and Crafts detail in places like the Gamble House in Pasadena. It’s all about creating atmosphere for me.

I have an affinity for the Memphis Group. The first time I became aware of furniture design as art form was when I saw an exhibit of theirs in the '80s. I grew up in Memphis, TN, and my mother was the development director of the museum that held the exhibit. I remember how excited she was about it, and I spent a lot of time looking through the catalog that she brought home. She finally bought a Memphis piece a few years ago.

CasaSugar: Where do you like to shop?

Jill Sanford Burrows: In Los Angeles, I like to walk along West 3rd Street. It’s got a bit of everything — fashion at Milk, design at OK, and since I love to cook, I visit Cook’s Library and always buy a thing or two at Joan’s on Third or Little Next Door. I just moved to downtown LA and am excited to be so close to the flower market. It’s a huge warehouse that supplies the florists in town, but it’s open to the public during certain hours. The Casbah Café in Silver Lake has great atmosphere, great food, and the store tides me over until I take the dream trip to Morocco.

I’ve been on a kick of giving gifts that aren’t necessarily tangible, or that are more about having experiences. I adopted a baby elephant in Africa for my sister so that she could share the photos with the class that she teaches, and I bought my husband a cheese-making kit and some rare olive oil from Zingerman’s, which has the best customer service ever. I make lots of donations these days in people’s honor as gifts, choosing causes that are relevant to them. Global Giving is great for this.

CasaSugar: What colors do you love to work with?

Jill Sanford Burrows: I love color, I’m not really a tan kind of girl. In the initial designs for my bedding line, I used colors that, while somewhat vibrant, could be easily incorporated with others in a room. Because there’s a lot of negative space in the designs, the white of the fabric balanced any color that I wanted to use. I love that I could use the berry color in Field Day, but it still has a subtleness to it because of the simplicity of the design and the white all around it.

CasaSugar: Tell me a little about your current designs. How were you inspired to create Riverbed, Streamline, and Field Day?

Jill Sanford Burrows: My approach for all three of them was to create designs that made an impact, but that wouldn’t completely take over a room. I decided on what are essentially line drawings for the initial designs.

In Riverbed, the shapes are based on smooth stones. The airiness of the outlined shapes and the saffron yellow of the embroidery lighten up the idea of a typically heavy object.

Streamline was inspired by the curves and long lines of Art Deco architecture.

In Field Day, flowers were the obvious starting point. Using only the most essential elements to convey the idea of the flower made it modern and graphic. I didn’t want the flowers to seem too precious.


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