How many of you have heard of a local brand called Porter Teleo? I first learned of them back in 2010, and I'm always pleased when I see one of their wallcoverings featured in shelter mags like Elle Décor and House Beautiful.
The patterns they create remind me of Abstract Expressionism, Japanese screens, African art and the work of Robert Motherwell.
What began as a casual conversation one night over art and design became a coveted collection of hand-painted and hand-printed wallcoverings---and now textiles. Two talented women---Kelly Porter and Bridgett Cochran---have managed to enter what is a very competitive industry and have done so from right here in Kansas City.
According to Bridgett, “Each step in starting our business led so easily to the next that it truly felt like something we were being pulled to do. I don’t know if we were necessarily aware of this at the time, but looking back, Porter Teleo is one of those things that was meant to be.”
I caught up with Kelly and Bridgett to find out what it takes to create a world-class brand of hand-painted wallcoverings that are the choice of high-end interior designers the likes of Kelly Wearstler. Here's what they had to say.
What's a typical day like for you both?
Some days we are truly grubby and have our hands covered with ink, troubleshooting all types of design challenges, including process control and color mixing. The next day we are spiffing ourselves up for first-row seats at Fashion Week, meeting with the best of the best in the design world and viewing celebrity homes where our product has been used. We do a lot of different things, including sales, marketing, managing people and tracking inventory, but we are mostly being creative and actually making product with brush in hand.
Where does inspiration come from?
Lots of times it comes from a conversation we're having together about nature or something innovative that we have witnessed. Organic form is very inspirational for our patterns. Mostly we aim to keep everything truly original and unique, and we do not regurgitate what is already out there in the design world.
Describe the papers and the techniques you use.
Our hand-painted papers are painted with Japanese wash-painting techniques on beautiful natural-fibered papers. All our inks are hand-mixed, and each order is made to order. We do lots of custom design and custom color.
What does the future hold for Porter Teleo?
We have just been to Fashion Week, so we were extremely inspired by that. We have some very exciting things up our sleeves.
If you're wondering if one of their patterns might be just the thing for a room or two in your own home, you don't have to to do an entire room and all four walls. As Kelly puts it, “Everyone can have some PT in their home, as artwork, or in a small space if they do not like the idea of an entire room.”
With the help of Sofia at Hudson Home and a good installer like Rob Woods, you too can have some PT.
I'll see you again soon.
Kerry Pitt-Hart has designed jewelry for Anthropologie, is a Getty Images contributor and is working on a children's book. She finds inspiration in the beauty of things as they are, Hellenistic sculpture, Chinese calendar posters of the 1910s and creatures that make their homes in the sea. She'll be lending her creative eye to KCMag.com's exlusive home design blog.