Since the launch of our sewing and soft goods program in 2011, our bedding has perennially ranked among our most popular offerings. Products like the Fog Sheet Set and the Winter + Summer Cotton Coverlet have demonstrated that people hunger for quality textiles that are made with care and attention paid to every detail. But even among stiff competition, the Blooming Field family, released this Spring, has already proven itself both an instant hit and a modern classic.
That the Blooming Field family has taken off is a point of pride for us considering how the development unfolded. Originally planned for a tight development timetable using only in-house resources, the Blooming Field family was born at the intersection of creative restrictions and persistent refinement. Put another way, the collection embodies the spirit of doing more with less.
The development of the Blooming Field family started back in summer of 2017. At the time, the product development team felt the existing product offerings were strong, but somewhat out of date. “Our Woodland Meadow sheet set had become quite beloved, but it had been around for a while and we felt it needed a fresher, more mature update,” says Product Line Manager Kate Richard, who led the early development of the Blooming Field family. “We also liked our Eucalyptus Nights sheet set, and felt it had more of the adult vibes we wanted. The goal then became to find a way to bring the two sets together into something that was even better than the sum of its parts.”
With that mandate, Kate began sourcing unique botanical and textile inspiration. Collecting imagery from a wide variety of sources including visual art, apparel, and interior design, the team started to hone in on their favorite examples of floral illustration. One member of the team, Creative Services Manager Jenny Trygg, who at the time was planning her own poppy-filled wedding offered that maybe that flower’s crepe-like delicacy and elegant colors would translate well on the loom. Another member of the team took it upon herself to start drafting patterns of poppy blooms. Eventually, they came up with a promising approach: by pairing contrasting hues with organic geometries, they arrived at a design reminiscent of a mosaic.
Jenny's wedding bouquet which served as inspiration; photo by Anna Caitlin
Early sketches from Product Development
There was just one problem: the timeline. Products often take about a year of development, with several months thrown in at the end of focused, disciplined work leading up to the launch of the product. While the family had been initiated in June of 2017 and wasn’t meant to launch until the Spring 2018 collection, realistically the team only had about six months to turn around the final designs if the production department was going to be able to meet demand. When it came time to decide what products would make the cut for Spring launch, the Product team decided Blooming Field was a no-go.
The design evolution
At that point, Kate started a different position within the company that took her out of product development, and the project was shelved. It would be another three or four months before Jenny would pick it back up again. Working with some of the team’s newer members, she started looking for ways to embrace the project’s existing successes and push it over the development finish line. They started by addressing the color palette.
“The pink colorway paired with a floral pattern felt a bit cloying,” says Associate Product Developer Tana Solars. “So we went back to the drawing board to take a look at how we could use color.”
The next fabric iteration, a combination of goldenrod and orange blooms set against a gunmetal background, felt closer to what they wanted to accomplish. It had contrast, but with sophistication. And yet, it was still slightly off. The colors were overwhelming the pattern. So using a set of Pantone fabric swatches (Pantone being an internationally used system for codifying color) they began rendering the fabric with subtle shifts in hue.
Orange was modulated down to mustard, goldenrod became cream, and gunmetal turned green. They also started to find ways to soften the shapes in the flowers and make the whole composition feel less busy. Geometric curves in the flower stalks were made to meander organically across the background. The scale of the pattern was zoomed in so the flowers were more prominent, which gave the linework more room to breathe.
It was the best version of the pattern they’d made to date. It felt mature without being gendered. The colors felt fresh and sophisticated, and they complemented other existing pieces in the Schoolhouse bedding line, such as the Channeled Cotton Quilt. And thanks to a new (to Schoolhouse) digital fabric printing process, even brand new samples had the touchable softness of a vintage textile.
However, the team wasn’t sure it was perfect, so they did something that’s quite rare in a fast-paced, demanding business: They sat on it. They set the design aside once again as they developed other products and gave themselves time to find clarity in their feelings on the fabric. “We really had to sit with it for a while,” says Tana. “Eventually it started to really grow on us. By the time launch came around, we were excited for the collection’s release.”
When Spring 2019 launch came around, it was finally the Blooming Field’s turn to step into the spotlight. As launched, the collection included a duvet cover, Euro pillow shams, and a shower curtain, each of which give the fabric a unique opportunity to shine. The collection feels both classic and of-the-moment, which just goes to show you: fashion can’t always be fast.
Image via @emilyblincoe