meet the makers | Apr 28, 2022 |
These designers make textiles as authentic and exquisite as fine art
These designers make textiles as authentic and exquisite as fine art
Bridgett Cochran and Kelly PorterCourtesy of Porter Teleo

Authenticity is key for Bridgett Cochran and Kelly Porter. Instead of drawing inspiration from present-day decor fads, the duo behind Kansas City, Missouri—based surface design brand Porter Teleo are on a mission to create artful, thoughtfully made fabrics and wallcoverings for everyday homes. “We aren’t out to re-create trends,” Cochran tells Business of Home. “We aim to bring truly unique and beautiful patterns into the world.”

The pair have always had a fascination with interesting and impactful textiles. Porter, who studied at the Kansas City Art Institute before earning a master’s in fine arts at State University of New York at Buffalo, spent her collegiate years honing her printmaking skills, including etching, woodblocking and lithography. Though she was earning a living as a college professor and selling her paintings at galleries across the country, it was Cochran—working as an interior designer at the time—who motivated her to think outside the box about her artwork. “Bridgett started educating me on the interiors industry, and soon we had a combined idea of an entirely new type of textiles that could merge fine art and design together,” she says. “It was a natural progression for me to start investigating more pattern-driven ways of creating imagery and artwork.”

These designers make textiles as authentic and exquisite as fine art
Porter Teleo’s Synergy wallcovering in a bedroom designed by Tara Kantor Interiors.Adam Macchia

In 2005, they launched Porter Teleo (“telos” is Greek for end or purpose) with a line of six bespoke wallcovering patterns, printed panel by panel on an etching press. They decided to switch to solely handpainted designs not long after. “Painting instead of printing opened up so many new ways to express aesthetic nuances, which made our look unique—and coveted,” says Porter. “We try to educate designers on the difference between a trackable printed repeat and an organically produced pattern that has continuity but avoids tracking. [The latter] creates an entirely different feeling in a room, something that is so rare and special.”

All of Porter Teleo’s products begin as original artworks—an array of dreamy motifs inspired by the natural environment and transformed into handsketched and -painted patterns before being cast in multiple colorways. “Once a collection has been finalized in both color and pattern, Kelly and I spend days working directly with our production artists to leave them with a complete understanding of the artwork they will create,” says Cochran. “Rolling out new collections is a very engaging experience for our entire team and something we all look forward to.”

About a season after Porter Teleo launches a wallcovering collection, the brand interprets the patterns into handpainted textiles. “We work with fine linens, cottons, natural silks and other organic fibers,” says Porter. “The fabric itself must be beautiful before we ever touch it with our inks, paints or dyes.”

These designers make textiles as authentic and exquisite as fine art
Tangled wallcovering by Porter TeleoMelanie Morris

More recently, the company has ventured into commercial spaces, releasing its first-ever line of hospitality-grade textiles and wallcoverings, which provide a bespoke experience equal to that enjoyed by their clients. “We have spent the past three years making countless edits and reworks in order to achieve a durable product with the authentic look and feel Porter Teleo has become known for,” says Cochran of the series. “Each pattern in the line began with handpainted yardage in our studio. Our goal was to create the perfect composition with barely detectable repeats, allowing our hospitality clients to have the same feeling of moving within a piece of art.”

The brand offers custom artwork services as well. “Our clients can choose from cross-sections of any of our large-scale patterns or create something completely unique for their space,” explains Cochran. “Once the imagery is selected, it can be digitally printed on matte art paper or painted by our team of artists on canvas sized to meet specifications.”

In May, Porter Teleo will debut a new five-pattern collection punctuated by flowers, foliage, architectural ornamentations and metallic threads that forge a reflective finish. The pair also hope to expand into wall and floor tiles sometime in the not-so-distant future. “In an age where there is so much value in human connectivity, our handpainted products provide a much-needed respite from the mass-produced and the commonplace,” says Porter. “No one wants to get lost in a sea of sameness.”

If you want to learn more about Porter Teleo, visit the brand’s website or follow them on Instagram.

Homepage photo: Silk Scarf in Cadmium wallcovering by Porter Teleo | Courtesy of Porter Teleo

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