The designer on life before her textile empire and how to have a unique aesthetic in the age of Internet overload.
It would seem the textile designer Madeline Weinrib was predestined for her line of work. After all, her grandfather founded the Manhattan design mecca ABC Carpet & Home, which he passed down to her father, and her grandmother was a skilled tailor. But Weinrib never saw it that way — not at first, anyway. ‘‘I didn’t even like carpets,’’ she recalls — perhaps a youthful inclination to go against the genetic grain. Instead, Weinrib became a painter. In her 30s, the family trade began to draw her in. Twenty years later, the New York native is considered one of the earliest pioneers of the now-ubiquitous bohemian, East-meets-West design boom.
A visit to her Manhattan showroom feels like stepping into the most wonderful international souk, filled with hand-blown glassware, ceramics from Europe and exquisite vintage textiles as well as her own vibrantly hued dhurries, cushions and fabrics that have inspired many imitations. To feed her taste for unlikely pattern combinations, Weinrib travels constantly. ‘‘Morocco, Turkey, Nepal. Those are some of my top sources,’’ she says. ‘‘Now that the world is accessible with a mouse click, we’re left with few places to find new things, so it’s more important than ever to focus on unique ways of seeing things.’’
Beauty is vital to Weinrib, who calls herself an old-fashioned aesthete. Among the pretty sights that never cease to fill her with glee are bluebell-filled fields, ladies in colorful saris walking down the streets together, farm-stand bounty in the late summer sun and packs of impertinent Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. (She has two of her own.) In Weinrib’s opinion, some people are just hardwired to appreciate the lovelier things in life.