Designer Spotlight: Maja Lithander Smith
Meet Maja Lithander Smith, interior designer, globe-trotter and textile importer (www.foundbymaja.com). We've partnered with Maja on numerous projects using her exquisite textiles from around the world. Read on to learn about Maja, her fabric collection and our most recent revitalization collaboration.
How do you define your design aesthetic?
Elegant bohemian with traditional roots and a modern edge.
How did you start importing fabrics? Why?
I have a lifelong love of textiles; I'm indiscriminate when it comes to their origin - every culture has its own exquisite designs. When traveling I scour local markets, meet artisans, visit mills and bring home yards of my favorites. A few years ago in Istanbul I became enamored with Turkish silk ikat fabrics, especially the vintage silk velvets. I brought several back to San Francisco to use in my own home as well as client projects. I had such an overwhelmingly positive response that I contacted the artisan in Istanbul and purchased more. And that's how I started my textile importing career!
What is your favorite travel destination for unique textiles?
It's impossible to pick just one! Istanbul for silks. Guatemala for handwoven cotton textiles. Laos and Japan for Indigo. India for block print cotton and silk. Honestly, the list goes on and on....I can find gorgeous textiles everywhere!
Can the artisanal textiles stand up to today’s family-friendly wear and tear?
I believe in teaching your children to respect and appreciate nice things. The handwoven textiles I import are undoubtedly more durable than machine made textiles - they are made to last for generations. Even the vintage silk velvets stand up to lots of wear and tear, they are amazing on upholstery or pillows.
What are your favorite prints from those you import?
Of course I think all the fabrics I import are gorgeous! But I am definitely partial to the silk ikats. They're so rich and luxurious.
The silk ikat fabrics are quite narrow in width compared with most fabrics. How do you work with these in upholstery projects?
Yes, the silk ikats are approximately 15" wide due to the size of the hand looms the artisans use. The fabric can of course be seamed together for larger upholstered pieces. But I also love to use it on smaller scale pieces like benches, foot stools, accent chairs or dining chairs.
What is your favorite revitalization project that you’ve completed using your fabrics?
For a personal project, my favorite is the chairs in my own dining room, upholstered in vibrant jewel toned silk velvet ikat - they make me happy every time I look at them. For a client project, my favorite is a pair of Kartell chairs that I recently did for a very chic client.
Where did you find these chairs and why did you decide to revitalize them?
My client already owned these chairs and had been using them in her living room. She loved the lines and classic lucite base but the black and white Marimekko fabric had seen its better days. I like working with pieces that my clients already own and revitalizing them to work in the new interior we're designing.
How did you revitalize these chairs?
Because of their slender frames, they were great candidates for a single-width (e.g. unseamed) of a silk velvet ikat fabric. As I mentioned, the ikats I import are about 15" wide - just the right width for upholstering the seats and front side of the chair backs. We had the ikat appliquéd onto a onyx colored silk velvet from Holland and Sherry. I'm delighted with how the chairs turned out! They are a great conversation starter in her living room!
How can people purchase your beautiful textiles?
I'm excited to announce that this summer I'll be opening a retail shop on Sacramento Street in San Francisco. Stay tuned for more details!
Wondering where to have custom pillows made in a gorgeous fabric? Revitaliste is your one-stop resource for custom pillows and cushions.
photo credit: guillermo gusils leon