Mr. McBride’s way of telling the story now is to reintroduce the fabrics from the collaboration between Tillett and Design Works, with a portion of the profits donated to the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club. Four samples in three colors have recently been made available to retailers. Tote bags, pillows, and face masks in the patterns can be ordered through the company’s Instagram account. “We will gradually be releasing other samples from Design Works,” said McBride, noting that the fabrics are made from Belgian linen, which is more modern and luxurious than what was available in the 1970s.
“There has been a revival in the use of vibrant, rich colors indoors,” he said. “People are passionate about color. The release of these fabrics in their original, rich hues is authentic to history and suited to what is going on in the design world today. “
Before it closed in 1978, Design Works was housed in a five-story building in Bedford-Stuyvesant with a boutique on the ground floor. In addition to decorative fabrics, ready-made fashion, stoneware and jewelry were also produced in limited quantities as part of the initiative. However, the focus was on the textiles that Connaissance Fabrics sold across the country. “It was a vertical operation, we designed, mixed colors, printed and cured the fabric on site, and handled the shipping. All of this was rarely in one place back then, ”said Ortiz, who will be launching his own collection next spring.
Mrs. Onassis built Design Works fabrics into the Fifth Avenue apartment she shared with her husband Aristotle. The rooms were featured in the November 1971 issue of House Beautiful. In one photo in the library, the sofa is upholstered in Large Feather, an abstract print that highlights a quirky touch among French antiques, a rare needlepoint rug, and 19th-century volumes in the floor-to-ceiling bookcases.
Ms. Mariaux also used Design Works textiles in her Manhattan apartment in the early 1970s. “I loved the patterns. They were pretty dramatic for the time. My favorite was a natural linen base cloth that was printed with espresso brown cowrie shells, ”she said.
“The collection was very well received, not only because people really wanted to support the Bedford-Stuyvesant community – which they did – but because the fabrics created by Design Works were particularly unique and beautiful,” said Ms. Mariaux. “It’s nice to know that they will be available again.”