Tucked away in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Baxter Mill Archive represents a quiet giant of the American design industry. Now touting a historical textile collection more than 600,000 specimens strong, CEO Derick Close launched the venture in the early aughts using the vast stores (dating back to 1887) from his family’s former Springs Mill as foundation. By opening it to members of the trade—complete with a High Point showroom—he established an invaluable resource for blue-chip brands like Thibaut, Kravet and Holly Hunt. Luxe sat down with Kathy Phillips, its design director and tireless catalog keeper, to learn what makes her company tick.
How it works: A major art house or textile brand might call us looking for inspiration—say paisley. I go into the archive and pull examples. And since I develop trend reports with World’s Global Style Network, I already have a good idea of what they’re looking for. I then offer a lease and pull the chosen design from the archive for their exclusive use until the time is up.
And for standalone projects: Let’s say a designer wants a fabric for a midcentury-modern-inspired nursery. They come to us for inspiration and customization. We can enlarge, rescale, recolor and digitally print a new textile based on the historical one, with the cost of using the archive simply folding into that final fabric price.
Plus: Another 25,000 new pieces from Alicia Messina in New York. She worked with brands like Lee Jofa, Colefax & Fowler, and Zimmer + Rohde to develop their collections.
Next up: We’re currently in talks with an architect to transform a massive distribution center across the street into a state-of-the-art new facility, The Thread, which will house the archive and so much more.