Q&A With Philip Bershad of Phillip Jeffries

By Kyle Hoepner

Next Tuesday, October 7, Philip Bershad, president of the famed purveyor of super-high-style wallcoverings, Phillip Jeffries, will be visiting the Wakefield Design Center in Stamford, Connecticut, to give an inside look at their newest collection. In advance of his New England appearance, Philip was kind enough to do a little Q&A with me for our blog. So, without further ado:

KH: What were the inspirations for this latest collection from Phillip Jeffries?

PB: We kept going back to 1920s Paris: from music to art to the literature that was created there, Paris really was the culture hub. So, drawing from that era, our new Chain Reaction collection’s embroidered fabric appliqué is reminiscent of Chanel’s iconic links, and the new textiles are inspired by the look of classic men’s suiting of the day. Additionally, our new hand-woven water hyacinth Braided Walls was inspired by master oil paintings.

Some peeks at the new collection: Chain Reaction in Charcoal Spark

KH: How do you see your new offerings breaking new ground?

PB: Well, one of the things we always try to do for the top designers—be they in New York, LA, or New England—is giving them products that are inspirational, that get them excited and passionate. We also want to create products that they can use in everyday projects. And this collection really tells that story.

Amalfi Silk in Grape Arbor

KH: Over the years Phillip Jeffries has been moving well beyond just grasscloth. How would you define, in design terms, what the company's vision is?

PB: We decided a long time ago that we wanted to be focused. We could do a lot of things okay, or we could be the best in the world at one particular thing. So for us, that one particular thing is being the best in the world when it comes to handcrafted wallcoverings: great grasses, beautiful textiles, and spectacular specialty items. We stay true to our commitment to be the world’s best when it comes to natural, textured, specialty wallcoverings. In fact, we even have a sign up in our headquarters to remind us every day what our vision is.

Braided Walls in Celadon

KH: Are there areas where you can imagine continuing to push the envelope with your designs in the future? That is, in terms of patterns, colors, materials, etc.?

PB: Our goal is to push the envelope every season! Every season we want designers to say, “Did you see what Phillip Jeffries just came out with?” And if we’re not doing that, then something’s wrong. We want to create inspiration, to create that wow experience, for designers. This season, you’ll see a tremendous amount of color, from vibrant chartreuses and spectacular peacock colors to soft lilacs and greys, and really spectacular mixes of natural elements with slight metallics.

Ornamental in Carved Pewter

KH: And are there classics from prior years that you can see yourself revisiting? That is, either things from your own earlier collections, or things based on historical models or the work of classic designers?

PB: I couldn’t have a better answer if I’d written this question myself! With our new Grass Roots collection, we’ve circled back to our roots. We looked at our archives to the ten original grasses that Eric Bershad started the brand with, and updated some of those classics with hot new colors and metallics. It’s a great classic from yesteryear for today’s designers.

It’s Greek to Me in Steel Blue and Midnight on Jute. All photos courtesy of Phillip Jeffries

I know our friends in the trade will want to check out Philip’s presentation. Here’s the lowdown:

Philip Bershad at the Wakefield Design Center
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
9:30 a.m. Breakfast
10:00 a.m. Presentation
Wakefield Design Center
652 Glenbrook Road
Stamford, CT 06906

For more information visit the Wakefield website, or to RSVP email [email protected] or call (203) 966-8203.

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