Set to debut later this fall, the “Mihirgarh” collection from Tabula Rasa by fashion designer Emily Diamandis (formerly with Rag & Bone) was unveiled at a special preview last month. Inspired by Indian culture and desert textures, the collection incorporates a mélange of knit ready-to-wear with a selection of home accessories, based on a fantasy fortress Mihirgarh in the desert of Rajasthan.
With an extensive background in knitwear design, Diamandis crafted each blanket and sweater line in layers, using intricate weaving patterns and complex crochet, tasseling and jacquard stitch work. The multi-step process by which colorful yarns are paired, spray dyed, and hand-knitted in a painterly style to create a three-dimensional effect demonstrates the refined subtleties of pieces like the Nubian blanket.
This reporter chatted with Diamandis to get the scoop on how fashion inspired her Mihirgarh home collection as well as what’s coming next.
How does fashion play a role in this collection?
Tabula Rasa is about both fashion and interiors, and how they interrelate and overlap. The core philosophy behind Tabula Rasa—which is defined as “blank slate”—stems from the idea that any space we inhabit is a blank canvas that we can adapt to express our personal style.
This notion extends beyond clothing into the realm of accessories and interior décor. Our homes are such integral parts of who we are and the way they look is an extension of how we style ourselves.
What are some similarities and differences between designing for fashion and for interiors?
Most of the time there is a big overlap in designing for both. The same textures, colors and yarns can work well in both a throw and a sweater. And although the principles are the same, consideration must be specific for any item you are designing. For example, a stitch that works in a sweater doesn't always translate into a throw or a rug as the scale of those pieces are much larger, a textural stitch that looks great as a sweater can be lost in a throw. So, you up the volume when you are designing larger pieces. I have gone through a big, but fast, learning curve over the past year figuring this out!
What made you want to shift to designing for interiors?
I have always been interested in interiors and creating beautiful environments. I have found that working for yourself you never really stop, so for me it’s important to create a space in which I can be relaxed and creative. I also wanted to build a brand that is different from the conventional ready-to-wear model. Given my background in fashion, it would have been much easier for me to just do a sweater line, but I wanted to challenge myself and design products I am not used to. I feel that as a designer you have to constantly push yourself.
The word lifestyle in brands is overused, but I really think that consumers are looking for something more these days, something that is about the way we live, the way we travel and the way we want to express our personal style, both at home and in the way we dress. I think it’s a truly interesting concept to be able to get a great cashmere sweater, and a rug, from the same designer.
How did you approach this collection?
This is only my third collection since launching, so my approach was to really build upon the different components of the line, to push them further while still creating a strong visual dialogue between them all.
What was your jumping off point?
As well as my love for design, I have a real passion for travel. A collection will invariably be inspired by a journey that I have taken. This latest collection was from a trip I took to India last year. I traveled way out into the Thar Desert in Rajasthan and was really taken with the vast landscape and cities that are like giant sandcastles rising from the sandy plains.
I also spend a lot of time sourcing yarns, which is a textile artist’s “paint.” Once I have my materials, I begin working on the textures I want to create. The great, but also time-consuming, thing about knits is that there are two layers to it, you have to first design your fabric and then create the styles. Each piece in the line is very intricate and has a mix of different stitches, colors, yarns, textures and techniques, it has gone through a very detailed process.
What is your personal aesthetic as far as interiors go?
My personal aesthetic for interiors is constantly evolving. I stay away from a defined style and look to combine elements from different aesthetics and times. I’m not afraid of color, patterns and playing around to see what works. I hate anything that looks too staged and like a show home. Your space should be inviting and relaxed and reflect your interests and loves.
How do you hope this brand will blossom?
The great thing about Tabula Rasa is its potential scope; from rugs, to the perfect cashmere sweater, to cushions, to beach wear. I would love to see the three main components, fashion, home and interiors all blossom and build on each other. There are so many areas I could go into. I would love to do ceramics and furniture one day.
Do you have anything new in the works?
We are launching hand woven rugs next season, which I am really excited about. We are also starting to work on upholstery fabrics, hammocks for the summer, and the perfect travel candle.