Rebecca Atwood on Living With Pattern


Rebecca Atwood, home textile designer, artist and author of Living with Pattern: Color Texture and Print at Home, is a creative spirit, living in a visual world. Whether she extracts fond memories of the Cape Cod coast, or encounters interesting shadows and reflections in the bustling city of Brooklyn, Rebecca turns these small and detailed observations into pattern. Here, Rebecca shares how she sources inspiration, creative collaborations, and tips on how to decorate with pattern.

Rebecca – you’re a triple threat – designer, textile maker, and author. How did you initially get into the world of pattern design?

I studied painting at Rhode Island School of Design and towards the end of my time there my paintings began to be about the surface and textiles were a big source of inspiration. I took a few classes in textiles including machine knitting and digital printing and was hooked. When I was preparing to graduate, I thought textiles might be the closest thing I could do to painting for a full-time job so I created a portfolio and applied for jobs. I started my career with Anthropologie, which was essentially my training ground. I learned how to design product and brief it for production overseas.

Rebecca Atwood

Photo by Emily Johnston

You were born and raised in Cape Cod, you received your BFA in Rhode Island, and you are now headquartered in Brooklyn. How have the lifestyles and cultures of each unique city influenced your designs?

Cape Cod is my foundation. The off-season muted but chromatic neutral color palette, shifting light, and sense of calm continues to inspire me.  I love the coast. It’s my favorite place to be. The color of the sand, the ever-changing blues of the ocean, the spotted patterning on a lady crab shell, the purple blue on the inside of a mussel shell– all of this is a part of who I am. Brooklyn is so different! Sometimes I stop and think how did I get here?  As opposite as these places may be, I do love it here. Brooklyn has widened my world, and made it small all at the same time. I love that the city is so walkable, and I find a lot of inspiration in those everyday moments. It could be a shadow from scaffolding, the reflection of a floral dress in a glass building, or rusted metal against a painted pink wall. Most of all, what keeps me in Brooklyn is the community and opportunity. There are so many amazing designers, entrepreneurs, and creative people here who inspire me. My designs really come from making time to filter all of the ideas and experiences onto paper, fabric, etc. Sometimes, it’s a reaction to how much I need calm when living in this hectic city, and other times, it’s an idea inspired by it.

Rebecca Atwood Inspired By Cape Cod

Photo by Ren Yagolnitzer

It’s been an exciting year for you, including the release of your book Living with Pattern: Color Texture and Print at Home. What are some other projects you have worked on this year that you’re particularly proud of?

It has been an exciting year! Most of all this year has taught me it’s time to start dreaming big. Projects that came out that I’m particularly proud of include my limited edition collaboration with Method home for a line of hand soaps and cleaning products, as well as a collaboration with friend and embellishment designer Sarah Laskow for a collection of one of a kind hand embroidered pillows. We’re always working about a year out so there’s always so much in the works.

Rebecca Atwood Living With Pattern

Photo by Lydia Hudgens

What excites you about collaborating with interior designers?

While of course I have my own creative vision and thoughts on using my patterns when I’m designing them, I do love that the possibilities are endless and that interior designers and our customers explore this. I like seeing how my patterns can change and take on a different look in a new context. Pattern is personal and the mix makes it more so.

Rebecca Atwood Mood Board

Photo by Ren Yagolnitzer

Can you name some of your best-selling patterns?

Our dashes in gray and speckled in taupe are two best-selling patterns. They’re small and textural and easy to incorporate into any space, but also have an expressive mark to them.  Our marbled designs are also customer favorites, along with our shibori in pillows.

Photo by Ren Fuller

How does Rebecca Atwood prepare for a design conference, trade show, or fair?

To be honest, I’ve avoided these things for the most part! We’ve done one trade show, and it was crazy. We are planning to participate in ICFF next year in May and have to start planning the booth soon. I start with the concept and then I’ll plan out schematics to scale on the computer. Then of course it will change once we get the physical pieces and get into the space. Advice I’ve received is to create your booth ahead of time by marking it all out in a space the right size. We’re going to try that for this show.

Rebecca Atwood Swatches

Photo by Nicole Franzen

What are 3 tips of “best practices” to offer interior designers for decorating with pattern?

I think here the interior designers are likely the experts! My pattern 101 tips are pretty basic and more for individuals than interior designers who know all about this sort of thing.

1. Start with color. A tight color palette helps unite patterns with varying looks. If you’re new to pattern, stick with a monochromatic color palette. If you really want more color, pick one multi-colored pattern you love and then pull out the colors from there. Remember that everything doesn’t have to match perfectly, but should sit together, so play with physical swatches.

2. Mix up scale. You want a mix of small-, mid-, and large-scale patterns. Creating a visual hierarchy helps your eye move around a space. Smaller scale patterns will recede in space where as large scale patterns will pop.

3. Consider proportion. As a rule of thumb, aim for about 40-60% of the room to be patterned while the rest should be solids, textures, and material differences. Remember that patterning doesn’t just have to be patterns on objects but can be the repetition of objects within a space and architectural details.

Rebecca Atwood Pillows

Photo by Ren Fuller

For the interior designers who have clients that are shy of pattern, what’s your best advice to help make the client comfortable experimenting with pattern?

Start with small scale all over coverage patterns. They’ll read as texture from a distance and it’s a great way to introduce pattern into your home. I also think there’s no substitute for seeing actual swatches and living with them for a little bit.

Living With Pattern Mood Board

Photo by Emily Johnston

What’s your focus for 2017? 

Next year, we are introducing woven fabrics in a big way, as well as embroidered fabrics. I am very excited to be moving beyond print and into these new techniques.

Rebecca Atwood

Photo by Nicole Franzen

Contact Rebecca Atwood:


P: 718-369-0016