DESIGNER DIARIES | 10 Questions with Lake August

What is your earliest memory of design? When did you first know that you wanted to become a fabric/wallpaper designer?

My earliest memories are of garden design - what my mother and grandmother grew. My mother had favorite flowers that she grew year after year and are ingrained in my memory: marigolds at the edges of paths, purple irises under our palm tree (this was in Los Angeles!), pansies, nasturtiums. I drew and painted portraits throughout most of my childhood but when I started to be interested in textile design in my 30s, those plant memories sparked inspiration.

Can you tell us about your journey to becoming a fabric designer? Did this start from prior experience as an Interior Designer?

My early career was in the fashion industry. I segued from designing clothes to designing textiles and discovered how much I enjoyed that process. When I realized I was dreaming up more wallpaper patterns than patterns for clothing, I decided to start Lake August.

Where do you find the inspiration for your designs? What would you say are the main influences on your work?

Most of my designs are very personal and are inspired by my experiences with plants or in nature. Plants from my childhood, trips I've taken. Designing my Aurora wallpaper was a tribute to an old street I lived on that was lined with jacarandas trees. I would take early morning walks under them to spot hummingbirds.

Fabric Designs in Laguna Abalone & Sea Garden Midocean

Where is the most surprising place that you’ve found inspiration for your

I never thought my designs would be so autobiographical - I thought I would just choose a pretty flower and make a wallpaper from it. But the subject has to feel personal in order for me to feel passionate enough to design something from it.

What’s your creative process? Take us through the development of a design from idea conception to the final product. 

When I have a new idea for a pattern, I start by making rough sketches of possible compositions. Then I decide what technique to use to create the design - sometimes, as with Half Moon and Bun, I will carve a block, but mostly I paint. I usually paint in gouache in a very opaque way, so that the painting translates easily to screen print. 

Bettina Fabric Designs & Sunniva Wallpaper Designs 

What types of materials and production processes do you prefer to use and why?

The benchmark I hold the brand to is "natural materials and traditional techniques." We only work with natural fibers, and the more hands and less computers that are involved in our processes, from creative to production, the better. I choose to work this way firstly because it is satisfying to me, but also because it has a lighter impact on the environment.

We use linen because, aside from being such a beautiful fabric, it requires relatively little water and chemicals to grow and manufacture. And most of our fabrics and wallpapers are screen printed by hand.

What is something that most people don’t understand or appreciate about textile design that you wish they did? 

Of course one always wishes that every customer knew how much work and passion went into each design. But if someone wants to use my fabrics or wallpapers because they find them beautiful I am just as happy with that.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to experiment with adding more colour and pattern to their interiors with fabric/wallpaper but is scared of making the wrong choice? 

Don't make choices based on what's popular. Choose colors and patterns that make you feel good when you look at them. 

Nasturtium Bigleaf Wallpaper

Is there a particular design in your collection that’s your favourite and if so, why? 

Nasturtium is a favorite of mine because it is a flower that is very dear to me. I am also fond of certain designs because they make me think of the experience of creating them and my life at the time - like the summer I grew and painted sunflowers and then designed Sunniva. I love Channel Islands because it creates a totally encompassing atmosphere, and because I painted and designed it for my six year-old son who is in love with the sea.

Left to Right: Channel Islands Clouds Wallpaper | Channel Islands Pacific Wallpaper | Channel Islands Pacific/Grasscloth Wallpaper

How has the fabric and textile industry evolved since you became a part of it and what do you see and hope for the future of it? 

I hope that there will be more focus on sustainability. We are always trying to do better in that regard. I am experimenting with and would love to incorporate natural pigments in our production process, for example. I also love that interior designers seem more and more interested in boutique textile lines like mine, and how our creative and production processes set us apart from the bigger brands.

Click to see Lake August's Designer Profile and explore her fabric and wallpaper collections.