Shooting the summer catalog in the middle of winter always has us dreaming of spending long, leisurely days outdoors with the sun on our faces. Alas, summer is right around the corner, and we’re making all the necessary preparations for sunny days ahead. To get you in the mood, we spoke to Karen Mooney, our Senior Vice President of Brand Management, about the new summer catalog and some of her favorite must-haves this season.
Ballard Designs: The summer catalog is finally here! What was the driving inspiration for this issue?
Karen Mooney: The weather is finally warming up, and it’s all about being outdoors and entertaining. I think there’s more time spent around the table outside than there is inside. The weather is nice, the company’s great and the drinks are even better. You can just linger indefinitely. So how can we make those experiences enjoyable and relaxing?
BD: Chances are, you won’t be doing too much entertaining without proper seating. What do we have in the way of new places to park?
KM: First of all, I’ve got to say that we are total comfort snobs when it comes to outdoor seating. The most basic question we start with is, “what’s going to feel good to sit on for extended periods of time?” From there, we try to design around a certain look or feel we’re craving right now, which is how we arrived at the Newport Collection, our newest outdoor collection.
BD: Tell us about Newport.
KM: We wanted something lighthearted, yet a little dressy and a little nautical, too, without it being too much of a theme. The knot accent and rope details are just a little nod and at the same time really classic. And because it’s cast aluminum, it’s lightweight and doesn’t rust. It’s totally easy care.
BD: You’ve got a new reclining chair that’s great for lounging, too.
KM: We used to have this outdoor collection called Galante, and the number one seller was this lounge chair. The chair reclines all the way down, and when combined with the ottoman, becomes a chaise. So, for instance, if you have a little deck and you like to sunbathe, but you also want to be able to sit out there with your friends and chat, this is the perfect solution. We reintroduced the style in the Madison and Amalfi collections.
BD: We have a great selection of tabletop essentials for outdoor entertaining, including a new line from Bunny Williams. What was on your creative minds when you were creating this year’s selection?
KM: We believe you should have the same kind of indoor comforts when you’re entertaining outdoors — and style is a huge component of that. When you eat a meal inside, you want and expect certain things, so why do we change our expectations when we walk outdoors? I still want pretty plates, nice napkins and great glasses that feel good in my hand. I don’t want a paper plate and a Dixie cup. And when Bunny said she wanted to do outdoors, we got very excited.
BD: If there’s one thing Bunny knows a lot about, it’s entertaining outdoors.
KM: That’s right. Her outdoor melamine collection is beautiful. It’s inspired by china she owns, so it looks high-end, but it’s extremely durable. And I absolutely love her Seeded Tumblers. They look just like those Mexican bubble glasses and they feel heavy — but they’re unbreakable. It all creates a beautiful foundation for any occasion.
BD: We’re big fans of the blue-and-white color scheme.
KM: That was all Bunny. The blue-and-white check tablecloth is based on a vintage fabric. We took Bunny with us on a trip to our antique fabric resource in New York, and she picked out the fabric that inspired the design. It’s reminiscent of gingham, but it’s a bigger check and so fresh.
BD: What are some new items for outdoor that you’re excited about?
KM: The Wall Workstation! There are a hundred things you could do with it – hang it next to your grill, over a potting station or deck it out as a bar for parties. I love our new nautical pillows in both the coral and the navy. They have a real hand painted feeling — and they’re outdoor safe! And we all love the Avalon Collection for serving. It’s double-walled, so it doesn’t sweat on your table. It’s dressy enough for any event, too.
BD: We also noticed a lot of citron in the summer catalog.
KM: We’re loving green right now, but especially citron. This time of year, when you look outside at all the new growth , that bright green is what appeals to you. It layers so easily and looks great with lots of our favorite seasonal colors – navy, coral and melons. And, of course, it plays well with our animal prints. It’s just a fun, fresh accent color that’s easy to live with indoors or out.
BD: What are some easy ways to use citron?
KM: We’ve got a new Lime microfiber fabric that looks great on furniture. But if you’re not that adventurous, try it on a throw or on our Frog Knot Pillow. The herringbone pattern of our Balboa Jute Rug is a beautiful way to bring in some of that fresh color. We added the citron color to our Brigitte Bowls for mixing in with your existing collection. It’s also on the Lauren Lamp, a Garden Seat…I could go on!
BD: It’s no secret we love nautical accents. And there are plenty of ways to get nautical this season.
KM: It’s the time of year when everyone is going to the beach and you just want to put your feet in the water. These are just fun reminders of sand and sea and sun and surf. There isn’t anyone who doesn’t love the ocean or being reminded of it.
BD: This breakfast table vignette just screams beach house.
KM: Look at that guy [Whale Diptych Art]. Isn’t he fun? And the shells can go anywhere. You can hang them in a gallery like it is here, or they would look great along the top of the wall in a powder room. The upholstered seating, rug and chairs all pick up that clean, crisp navy and white that is so classic.
BD: There are several art pieces in this book by one of our new exclusive artists, Carylon Killebrew. Shoppers won’t find these items anywhere else.
KM: I really think that her subject matter and her style is so light hearted and fresh, it was a really good match for us. With this office space, I was envisioning a woman decorating it for her husband to use as well, and maybe he likes to fish and she wanted to find some art that reminds him of his days on the water. And one of my favorite things in the whole book is her cow print, Mango the Cow. We all just died over this cow! Everything is a little less serious. We love it.
Before we let Karen go, we asked her to share her favorite absolute must-haves from the summer catalog.
Karen’s Favorite Things:
These are so fun! I would love to use these outside. The citron, melon and spa all work great together, so if you have all white dinnerware, you can alternate your colors around the table. Or if you have the spa dinnerware, use the citron placemats. The Belize Napkins look really great with these placemats.
I’ve already bought the Paper Towel Holder. I have white countertops and I don’t want my paper towels to be a statement, and the marble just recedes into the background. And the Lazy Susan is amazing. We used it to create our floral arrangements in the video. You can use it for so many things. The quality of these pieces is amazing.
This rug is my favorite thing in the whole book! It’s looped and has such a soft texture, but, of course, it’s outdoor friendly. I’m getting a couple of sizes for my master bath. A runner will look great in front of my double sinks and a little 2×3 is the perfect size to go in front of my shower. It will be so cute!
This Etagere in brass is a showstopper. I love the scale — it makes a statement, but it’s not overpowering, because it’s very open. A storage piece like this is perfect in front of a big window because it doesn’t block the light. That’s what I have in my dining room — and now I’m thinking about changing it to this one. And the price is incredible! If you looked elsewhere for an etagere that size, it would be $2,500.
It’s modular so you can do one, two or three cabinets. People love islands because they’re so efficient, but to have one built is so expensive. And this looks just like a built-in and has the same kind of quality, with slow-close drawers and finished details.
I love this one, because the idea actually came from a customer. We read every single customer review, not only to learn about what people like or dislike about a product, but to see how they’re using the product. Sometimes they make suggestions or say, “I wish you had this…”. A customer wrote in a review of the Piccola Cabinet that she was using it as a charging station in her hall. So we thought, “why not reconfigure Piccola into a charging station?” It’s great — you just pull out the tray and put your stuff on it and push it back in. It can go anywhere because it’s very shallow.
These photos were taken in Bunny’s garden while we were at her home in Connecticut shooting her collection. We found these wonderful elements as we wandered around her beautiful grounds, and our photographer, Brian Bieder, captured them. We are also turning the images into note cards that will be coming out later this year. Only four are featured in the catalog, but there are more online.