Colorful nesting bowls, playful dinnerware and comforting bedding are all part of Pottery Barn’s new homewares collection, a collaboration between the homewares company and the Black Artists + Design Guild.

More than two dozen items in the BADG x Pottery Barn collection launched on January 28 have been created by a trio of women of color, the mother-daughter design duo of New Orleans-based Penny Francis, 57, and Casi St. Julian, 33, of Katy, with Los Angeles-based Lisa Turner.

Pottery Barn launched the project with Black Artists + Design Guild, asking for submissions from designers, artisans and other makers with ideas for a collection of homewares. Turner and St. Julian, who submitted a proposal together, did not know Turner before this collaboration.

The homewares company had signed on as a sponsor of a Black Artists + Design Guild virtual showcase in 2020 and wanted to continue working with the guild founded a few years earlier by artist-entrepreneur Malene Barnett to promote black talent. That’s when the idea for a homeware collection was born.

The three women met virtually, using the “Black joy” theme to generate ideas and massage them into this collection.

“We started talking about black joy and what it looks like, what it means to us. We were throwing out words that are part of our culture: family, joy, happiness, unity, laughter, dance, celebration,” Francis said. “Even though culturally we are miles apart and have different points of view as designers, as women of color, no matter where we come from – we all felt the same. thing.”

“We were united in thought, but we didn’t know the words came together, they became part of the design,” Francis said.

They worked on designs and themes that could be used throughout the collection, words on cloth towels or pillows, designs on bedding or other items and colors that could mix and match in each part.

Saint Julien came up with the idea of ​​using a shield motif, taken from the African diaspora, and thought about how a shield could have been used in Nigeria or Cameroon for protection or even for celebration. She sketched ideas by hand and finished with watercolors, and now you’ll find the shield design on many items, including bedding, vases, and on a hurricane lamp base.


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“We just rolled with it, and I didn’t realize how universally we could use it — in beanbags, bedding, and floor design,” St. Julian said. “It’s so abstract, but represents protection and something strong.”

She will have many pieces from the collection in the home she shares with her husband, Cedrick St. Julian, an engineer at Schlumberger. Casi St. Julian worked with his mother in New Orleans in their family business Eclectic Home and now owns his own design firm, Francis & Saint Interiors, in the Houston area.

She plans to use the bright and playful pillows in their 16 month old son Oliver’s playroom and loves the table collection and its mix and match nature.

Color was important for this new collection, as it comes out just before spring. The pillow collection is filled with bright colors and the nesting bowls are edged in blue, red and orange. You will also find touches of color in the bedding and in the dishes.

The color was a natural choice for Francis and St. Julian, who have lived in New Orleans most of their lives, except for a period after Hurricane Katrina when they evacuated to Houston. At that time, Francis had owned the furniture store – Eclectic Home, where she has an interior design studio – for only five years. Although there was no flooding, their home did, as did the homes of all of their family members. So Francis, her husband and their two daughters, Casi and her sister Camryn Francis — now an architecture student at Savannah College of Art and Design — moved to Houston for a few years.

Francis and St. Julian’s collection proposal and design ideas were also filled with a sense of family and history. Their family goes back several generations in Louisiana, as they are the descendants of slaves from the Whitney Plantation, now owned by a museum.

In California, Turner’s Interior Obsession design clientele tends to want a lighter, simpler style with fewer colors.

But she drew on her own experience growing up in a busy family – her father was from a family of 12 and her mother was from a family of seven. There were always aunts, uncles and cousins ​​around, and they all got together every weekend to play cards, eat and have fun.

“We wanted everything to feel handmade by an artisan, and to be able to be mixed and matched or used with traditional and contemporary decor,” Turner said. “There are so many gift ideas; you can take the small hurricane lantern as a housewarming gift to a party. That’s how we wanted to celebrate.

The past year has been a whirlwind for the trio, from being chosen at the end of 2020 to spending most of 2021 designing and producing products. Last fall, they met for the first time at a photoshoot for merchandise.

“It’s fun and happy, and that’s what we wanted it to be,” St. Julian said. “Pottery Barn makes really happy products all the time. It’s very different from what they normally do – more color than they usually do – but I think they’ll get a great response.

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