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Designers, People

Patina Vie's New Vintage Style

Patina Vie founder Sarah Willett's collaboration with Karastan continues to grow 

Lisa Vincenti
portrait in front of classic rugs

GREEN LAKE, Wisc. -- The fledgling design studio Patina Vie shot onto the home furnishings scene four years ago and the company's reach now stretches not only from antique furnishings, where it traces its roots, but also to tabletop, bedding and home textiles, decorative accessories, and naturally area rugs.

The business, headed by company founder Sarah Willett, debuted its first area rug collection by Karastan at the January 2017 Atlanta market, and by this October's High Point had grown the program even larger. What's more, Mohawk Home, a Karastan sister company, added an online only Patina Vie range that debuted in the summer (read full story). It seems Patina Vie, with its modern take on traditional vintage style, has struck a chord with consumers who seek out the label's fresh take on reassuring looks.

Patina Vie's Vintage Tapis by Karastan debuted at High Point and is a new construction for the rug maker.

Willett, who was born and raised in small town Green Lake -- population 1,100 -- began her journey into home furnishings in the antiques business. "My first job, when I was 12, was working in an antiques shop, and I fell in love -- hard," Willett recalls. Patina Vie, which began selling only antiques via its website, still operates an antiques business and today also sells vintage goods through online retailer One Kings Lane. It is this treasure trove of yore from which Willett mines the past for inspiration. And, today Patina Vie sells its branded products at retailers including Neiman Marcus, Horchow and Anthropologie. But Willett isn't content to leave it there, she has big plans for the label and thinks area rugs and flooring present a wealth of opportunity for the Patina Vie look.

"When I met the Karastan guys I said get ready for me, you haven't met anyone like me before," Willett said. "We're going to push the limits. I want products that are soulful, that feel like they've been around for a while, that have a story to tell and that get better with time. So Karastan answered my calling and we really have a great partnership together." RugNews.com sat down for a tete-a-tete with Willett to find out what drives her, what she loves about area rugs and how High Point buyers responded to the Patina
Vie aesthetic. (We also caught up with Karastan's Brandon Culpepper who details the company's new hit, read full story.)

How was the response to Patina Vie at High Point Market?
SW: Market was great. We introduced Vintage Tapis at the Karastan showroom and had an amazing reaction to it.

Patina Vie's new Vintage Tapis collection by Karastan is woven with an EverStrand base yarn and cotton weft for a low profile antique tapestry effect.

What is special about your new Vintage Tapis collection?
SW: Vintage Tapis is a new construction for Karastan -- I am really excited about the vibe. The collection feels vintage, handmade much like antique tapestries. Also, they have a thin profile and feel like treasured pieces with a story.

Where did the inspiration for your latest rug collection come from?

SW: I love pieces that have a history, a story and life, and these rugs fit that bill. Karastan developed a new construction for me so we can achieve the feel I wanted. These are thinner rugs for layering and they're brighter colors. I can see this [in a room] with a natural fiber rug as the foundation and a Vintage Tapis laid over it -- it's so fashion forward.

How do you approach your area rug designs?

SW: What I love about area rugs is when they have the look and feel of a vintage tapestry but in my approach designs have to be relevant -- with a modern twist. We want a house to feel like we have gathered and collected [furnishings] and put our own spin on the space -- something that feels artful and handmade but still feels relevant and not outdated or stale.

Patina Vie in the past four years has grown to include new home categories, including area rugs, tabletop, furnishings and bedding.

How do you think consumers want to live today?
SW: No one wants to live in a perfect home with rules where you have to take your shoes off at the front door. Vintage Tapis is casual and to me it is just one more layer in that casual lifestyle that is fashionable and in style. Today, we are living in a very layered way and Patina Vie is a very layered lifestyle. These rugs are designed to do be used like that.

What did High Point buyers think of the Vintage Tapis collection?

SW: We kicked off the collection with 20 designs and are already expanding -- and we have some request from retailers for [proprietary designs]. It's worth it,if they have the volume, we will create a curated product just for them.

Karastan's April 2017 High Point showroom carved out space to showcase the Patina Vie lifestyle and area rugs.

How has it been working with the Karastan team?
SW: This area rug collection has been on such a fast track and I have to give them props. They have a facility in the U.S. and the turnarounds are really fast. We have a can-do team that is nimble and takes advantage of the brand and the category.

How are retailers merchandising Patina Vie products?

SW: We are finding some retailers are cross-merchandising, while some tried and true rug stores and chains which focus on flooring will carry just rugs. We have 16 different license programs, from accent furniture, bedding, wall coverings to tabletop -- some retailers want not only a small piece of what Patina Vie offers but want a cross-merchandised look that is just for us.

Where did the Patina Vie look come from?

SW: We do have a sensibility rooted in my love for antiques and I have an antique business, which is where I started. I love being surrounded by pieces with a story and I knew I wanted to get our brand out there. So we connected with One Kings Lane that created a platform all over the world for our antique pieces.

When designing new products, where do you get your inspiration?

SW: Artisan handcrafted pieces are our inspiration for newly designed goods.

Patina Vie embraces a casual lifestyle which tweeks antique and vintage styles for modern homes.

How important is color in your designs?

SW: Our color palette is fresh; we really draw upon fashion in our color sensibilities in our home line. Color can make things feel really fresh and fashion forward. We also do a lot of development with retailers like Anthropologie, and that has been a marvelous opportunity for us to show how we approach product design.

Why did you decide to begin designing your own Patina Vie products?

SW: The first product we launched under Patina Vie, was our cocktail glass collection, which was rooted in my antiques business. I was collecting and reselling mid-century modern gold-decorated glassware. It was selling at beautiful retails and I just could not keep it in stock and so we decided to recreate it with 18-karat gold and a look that felt fresh for today -- Neiman Marcus, Horchow and One Kings Lane set the stage for where we are now with this glamorous glassware collection.

What's next for Patina Vie?

SW: For the rug and flooring world, we are excited to talk to Karastan about different product categories in flooring that we can add our spin to. We don't have a showroom yet but we are going to find a beating heart that represents us in a cross-merchandised presentation of the brand. We are doing a co-branded collection with Disney for its new Coco film -- we are their exclusive partner in entertaining and glassware. And, next year Patina Vie will create the Mother's Day gift in the paper and giftware category in all stores. Finally, we are launching a line of women's handmade boots, too. We decided to do it ourselves. We design with our cravings, our yearnings, what are we dying to come across. That is what drives me -- our love of experience. We don't approach something following the rule.

Karastan sister company Mohawk Home introduced an online-only range of Patina Vie rugs earlier this year, including this Suzani Tapestry collection rug.
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