Grow House Grow, based in Brooklyn, NY, specializes in narrative-inspired pattern work. Their lifelong passion for storytelling and affinity for design shapes every product they produce. From childhood memories and architectural observations, to heirlooms and souvenirs, each pattern is a tale of time speaking to the wonders of the world.
Here, Grow House Grow Founder, Katie Deedy, shares the story behind her narrative-based designs, the wallpaper and tile production process, and her fond relationship with interior designers.
Katie, how did your upbringing, education, and travels lead you to start Grow House Grow in 2007?
Katie Deedy: I grew up in a creative home; my mom is an established author, but when I was growing, up she made a living as a professional storyteller. My sisters and I spent a lot of time at storytelling festivals and libraries, which was incredibly fun. It helped develop my own love of story which has infused itself into most of Grow House Grow’s work. Much of my art growing up had an illustrative bent, so when I began pursuing my passion for pattern, is was natural to incorporate narrative into it. I’ve also had a very broad interest in history, science, mysteries, and design, so even though I knew I wanted to be an “artist” from a young age, I never ignored all the other subjects that I found fascinating. It’s all worked its way in one way or another!
Grow House Grow, based in Brooklyn, NY, specializes in narrative-inspired pattern work. How does your lifelong love of storytelling and affinity for design shape what you produce?
KD: All of our wallpaper patterns begin as a snippet of a story, an interest in a historical figure, a folktale, or a place somewhere in the world. From that initial interest, I build a pattern around that theme. For example, one of my earliest patterns was inspired by Captain Smith of the Titanic. I wanted to make a wallpaper that he might have had on his parlor room wall, so I researched interior designs of the era, and what themes would have fit for a sea captain. The final pattern is a Nouveau damask with jellyfish, squid, and sea sponges.
“The internet is wonderful for growing brand awareness, but there’s nothing like communicating directly with a knowledgable designer to showcase how much better the whole process is when a professional is involved. This is especially true for products like our handmade wallpapers and tiles which can require a little more experience when estimating and installing.”
Grow House Grow’s wallpaper is hand silk screened with care in New York. What are some of your best-sellers and what are the stories behind those patterns?
KD: Our most popular patterns range from Petticoat Palm—inspired by family stories of my Cuban grandmothers—to Alexandria, an all-knowing eye representing the lost library of Alexandria. We also have patterns devoted to time traveling and vanishing hotels, forgotten women scientists, the mysterious Voynich Manuscript, the Rockaways golden age, and a whole line devoted to Sister Cities. This line was particularly fun to design; I took two sister cities (towns that align themselves for educational, historical, or business/trade purposes), and created patterns using elements of each. Chicago : Mexico City is the most popular; it’s very Frank Lloyd Wright meets Aztec line work.
What’s your tile production process like, end-to-end?
KD: Our handmade cement tiles began with a desire to create the Cuban tile my family grew up with before they moved to the U.S. I always loved the matte textures and colors, and wanted to make something similar, but in my own style. Designing the tiles is much different than making a pattern for wallpaper. That said, the challenge has been wonderful, and it’s made my mind work differently in terms of laying out the design elements. After I’ve drawn out the pattern, we have a metal mold made in the same shape. From here, natural pigments are poured into the mold, about ¼ inch deep. This is then backed with Portland cement and marble power, and hydraulically pressed. Our tiles are 100% natural and not fired, and are as long lasting as the beautiful cement tiles still shining in their old Havana homes.
“Cattail”. Photo courtesy of Grow House Grow.
Can you recommend some creative ways to use fun tiles in a space?
KD: We have a lot of clients who use the tiles on their walls, or a combination of floor and wall. I love the latter look, particularly. It’s absolutely transforming! We’ve also had a few people create table tops with the tile, as well.
We met at ICFF in NYC this May…how was this show for you? Which other shows and markets do you prioritize, and why?
KD: We began at BKLYN Designs
in 2009, and it was an excellent local launchpad for our brand. In 2012, we moved to ICFF
, and have been doing this show during NYC Design Week every year. At the moment, we focus just on this show; it’s a wonderful opportunity for face-to-face feedback on our products, and to meet interior designers and architects in person who we communicate with throughout the rest of the year. We use ICFF as our yearly showcase for what we’ve been cooking up the previous 12 months, and being able to do it directly to clients and customers is important to us. A newsletter through a mailing list just isn’t the same.
“Interior designers are incredibly important to our brand. In many cases, they’re the “boots on the ground” sharing our wallpapers and tiles to clients who may not have otherwise heard of us.”
“Otomi”. Photo courtesy of Grow House Grow.
How do you typically work with interior designers?
KD: Interior designers are incredibly important to our brand. In many cases, they’re the “boots on the ground” sharing our wallpapers and tiles to clients who may not have otherwise heard of us. We offer trade pricing on all of our products (which we also extend to their personal projects!).
“Willow”. Photo courtesy of Grow House Grow.
In your opinion, how has technology impacted the design industry?
KD: In many ways, it’s helped small brands by making a virtual storefront very accessible. It’s also allowed individuals not familiar with the design world to access products without going through showrooms and interior designers. I know for Grow House Grow, having an open website that anyone can access or order through is positive. That said, the majority of our sales still go through the trade. The internet is wonderful for growing brand awareness, but there’s nothing like communicating directly with a knowledgable designer to showcase how much better the whole process is when a professional is involved. This is especially true for products like our handmade wallpapers and tiles which can require a little more experience when estimating and installing.
Why do you think it’s important for designers to embrace digital software such as Ivy to handle their business management and billing?
KD: It’s similar to when I was starting Grow House Grow and hit the point where my self-built structure for organizing and managing orders became more cumbersome than helpful; as you grow, especially as a small business, taking steps to streamline how orders and billing is processed gives you more time to create and grow (which is the enjoyable part!).
What’s next for Grow House Grow?
KD: My dream is to grow into the next Marimekko; I would love to expand our favorite pattens across more products for home and fashion.
Here at Ivy, we’re more than just an interior design software. Our mission is to provide interior designers with the community, resources and tools needed to manage your business beautifully. Are you searching for a business management tool to help streamline your workflow as an interior designer?