The fabric of her life

Onetime Westchester resident Alison Kouzmanoff – a former designer for Westfair – has continued her artistic pursuits after a move upstate. The big news is the launch of Palampore Fabrics and Hangings, quietly sophisticated fabrics for the home.

We at WAG love to hear about a former colleague’s success, so it was exciting when Alison Kouzmanoff got in touch to share news about her new venture.

The onetime designer for Westfair Communications Inc., WAG’s parent company, has launched Palampore Fabrics and Hangings out of Germantown, New York — and its artistic creations are deceptively simple and quietly sophisticated.

Kouzmanoff, who relocated from Westchester County, shared a bit about the new venture recently, including details of its name.

“‘Palampore’ is the name given to Indian fabric panels of the 17th and 18th century, widely used in European interior design. Palampores are distinguished by their intricate, stylized natural forms, by the contrast between the exterior borders and inner motifs and by their versatility. Palampores were used as wall hangings, bed coverings and canopies, draperies and table linens.”

Examples of the historic work can be found, we also learned, in the collections of institutions ranging from The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

We always knew Kouzmanoff was talented but found out lots more, including that she’s not only a graphic designer but also a fabric designer, photographer, weaver and avid gardener.

The debut Palampore collection offers fabrics and hangings, all custom-printed in the USA using ecologically sound, nontoxic, 100-percent biodegradable inks, with no water used during printing.

We were more than intrigued by her story — and by the artful look of her work, so reached out for even more details, which she generously shared:

Please tell us about the origins of Palampore Fabrics and Hangings. How long have you wanted to do something like this and how did you know the time was right?

“I’ve been interested in textile and pattern design ever since college. I have a collection of fabrics and a library of books on fabric and decorative design. My husband is an architect, and I’ve worked as a graphic designer for years, so design is a part of my life. When we moved to the Hudson Valley, the natural forms of plants that grew outside my windows spoke to me and began to merge with what I had learned about historical textile design. I became fascinated with the seed pods, leaves, tendrils, flower heads and all the natural forms that grow on our land and I began to use them as inspiration for fabric designs. I’ve always wanted the independence of my own business and so when I had enough designs for a first collection, I decided the time was right to launch.”

Can you share a bit about your background (from education and experience to interests) and what that has brought to this venture? 

“I had the good luck to find a design major in college that allowed me the chance to study a range of media — textile design, yes, but also photography, filmmaking, weaving, ceramics, graphic design and woodworking. After college I have been working steadily as a graphic designer and business manager for design studios, a cartographer, various publications and other designers.”

Who do you see as your ideal customer — and how has the brand been received in these early days?

“My ideal customer is an interior designer or home decorator who loves my designs. One of my first customers was a woman who had an unusually long table. She wanted a tablecloth for special occasions but couldn’t find anything long enough. She saw my website, liked Dogwood, and called me. I arranged to have it made into a tablecloth to fit and she used it this Thanksgiving.

“Initially I’m offering four hangings and 14 fabrics. In the future I plan to also offer stitched goods such as bedding, curtains and pillows as well as wallpaper. I’ve had a wonderful response and am looking forward to introducing new patterns soon.”

And finally, what have been the biggest challenges — and rewards, so far?

“The biggest challenge has been to balance the different roles one has to play to start and run (a) business — designer, marketer, business manager. It feels like there are always 100 things to be done. The biggest reward has been the feedback I’ve had from people who like my fabrics. I love design. It gives me pleasure to create something I think is beautiful. But I work alone. So when I put my designs out there and people respond, that’s very rewarding.”

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