Kate Thornley-Hall, a Toronto-based interior designer, is wowing textile enthusiasts with her new Cayman Islands Collection of fabrics, pillows and wallpaper patterns that reflect her recent travels in the Caribbean. Thornley-Hall’s style is bright, bold and colourful. While some people prefer to live in neutral spaces that encourage serenity, her clients enjoy colourful, vibrant spaces that generate excitement.
The designer credits her love of colour to her early childhood. She recalls spending time at the home of her closest friend whose mother, Susan Young, was an interior designer. Young had decorated each room in bold colours.
“There were fire-engine red walls and a giant Warhol painting of Mao. It was a really exciting house,” she says. This early exposure to interior design had a significant impact on her professional life.
Fast forward: She has a bachelor’s degree in English and history. She responds to a want ad in a London newspaper: “American design firm seeking design assistant.” It led to a four-year stint with Ann Boyd, the creative director at Ralph Lauren, where she worked with the RL team to expand the brand in Europe.
Fast forward, again: Once out on her own, Thornley-Hall realizes that she not only loves design, but has an appreciation of textiles. In fact, during a recent interview in a rooftop restaurant, she couldn’t resist the urge to identify the pillow fabric on a nearby banquette.
“It’s art,” she says. “It’s beyond art. It’s amazing to have a durable thing that decorates and has so many purposes.”
While the Cayman Islands Collection is not her first line of textiles, she admits that it is her favourite. Which piece does she like best? “Oh, it’s so hard. You can’t have a favourite child,” she says. After protesting in jest, she decides it’s the toile. “I’ve always loved toile. To me, it’s one of the most beautiful fabrics. Toile has always told a story and this [toile]is a bit of the [Cayman] story.”
It is a pictorial translation of the unique history and breathtaking scenery that captured Thornley-Hall’s imagination on a recent visit there. The collection, with the exception of the handmade Nepalese carpets, is designed, printed and manufactured within a 100-mile radius of Toronto.
Thornley-Hall is making her mark on the world of textiles by designing products of exceptional quality and graphic depictions that are unique to her experience in the Cayman Islands.