Peter Fasano: Every Design has a Story
October 9, 2014
Vietnam changed my life changed forever but not for the reasons you’re thinking. I returned home and applied to Parsons School of Design and shocking to me they admitted me to study Interior Design.
After Parsons, I spent a year or two working for Carleton Varney at Dorothy Draper, which I hated. I was living in an apartment on the Upper Westside with no money for furniture. I stapled a piece of canvas to the floor and made a 6' square painting/drawing. After about 3 months I unstapled it, hung it on the wall, and knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I quit Dorothy Draper, went to the Art Students League on West 57th Street and discovered I was a pattern painter. David Easton, who was one of my instructors at Parsons, asked me if I had ever thought of painting on fabric to make a living. I hadn’t, but then did, for Albert Hadley, Halston, Mario Buatta and too many more great designers to list. On my seventeen yard long table in a small loft on Madison & 93rd Street I was painting up to 10,000 yards of fabric a year.
Fabric created for Albert Hadley in the 1980s
Virtually every design I come up with is a random collection of something I have seen, or I have been asked to think about. If I specifically look for a design I can never, ever find it. With all the books on design that I surround myself with I realize there truly is nothing new under the sun. All we can hope to do is collage what has been done before in new and interesting ways. That's the easy part for me but then choosing colors! dread this part. While creating one design is easy, it can be done in so many colors. And I then go into “analysis paralysis” on color choices, and wish I could just ask someone "okay–What colors should I do this in?"
Cupar in Fire
Cupar in Palm
Cupar in Walnut
One of my new patterns only came about because my wife Elizabeth Hamilton and I were going to Manhattan in January to see the PBR (Professional Bull Riding) in Madison Square Garden. It was a freezing cold, snowy, slushy day and we stopped off at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the textile show. We didn't like that much in it, but on our way out we walked through a gallery and I was stopped in my tracks by a pattern in a frame which we are now obsessed with.
Fabric by Peter Fasano
A couple of years ago we were in Honolulu at the Art Academy, and across the street they were holding their annual fundraising Holiday fair. We stopped in there for a lark and came up with a design that has succeeded beyond our dreams. We bring back these treasures to our studio, where we can create pattern on paper, put it in repeat, shoot it onto a silkscreen and then start printing strike-offs. A collection is born.
What's on the horizon for my collection is inspired by the colors of the many pairs of golf shorts I have purchased this year (golf being my other passion). Plugging these colors into existing and new designs is so much fun, but certainly not without more “analysis paralysis.” And if you ask me tomorrow what is on the horizon, you may get an entirely different answer.
Peter Fasano is a fabric designer based in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He and his partner/wife, Elizabeth Hamilton, have been creating hand-screened fabrics and wallpapers for more than thirty years, including their own designs as well as custom patterns for many prominent designers.
You can read Elizabeth Hamilton's guest blog here.