For L.A. textile designer Brook Perdigon, the path from idea to finished product is marked by twists and turns. Just one notion can launch a journey through centuries and continents–from Native American iconography to Indian block prints and from Congolese bark cloth drawings to the surreal works of artist Joan Miro. The result is an eponymous line of textiles and wallpaper that depicts a mix of eclectic, organic patterns embracing what Perdigon calls an imperfect geometry.
“I use these inspirations as a diving-off point, and let history lead me to something new,” she says. What all of these varied sources have in common is a strong tradition of making. “I am fascinated by how people throughout time used their hands to create and how critical this instinct was to their existence,” she notes.
From her new Atwater Village studio, Perdigon strives to capture that handmade spirit. She experiments with motifs using various analog techniques, whether painting sketches or cutting out stencils with X-Acto knives. “I love the wonkiness of the shapes that come from drawing with a knife,” she says of the latter process. To create patterns for her second collection, New Lands, she even traveled to India to learn traditional block printing.
Though her final layouts and pattern repeats are finished digitally, incorporating crafted details “is important for preserving the artist’s hand,” she explains. “Computerizing everything takes the life out of a pattern. The imperfection lets you know it originated from a human being.” For her textiles, the designs are silk-screened onto Belgian linen, while her wallpapers are digitally printed onto sisal grass cloth or vellum.
Preserving a connection with fellow creatives in L.A. is fundamental for Perdigon. Besides working exclusively with local printers to produce her textiles, she also has collaborated with artist Jill Spector on two performance art projects that incorporate her designs. In one, as part of an experimental dance, performers interacted with the line and form of her Ituri motif, which covered a 13-foot-deep pool turned stage. To launch her recent collection, Meridians, Perdigon and Spector created a series of photographs in which dancers moved and manipulated the fabrics to intersperse within natural surroundings. “Having this dialogue with others keeps my work alive,” says the designer. “It’s so much fun working with people locally to execute a vision.”
As for what comes next, Perdigon is never certain. What endures, though, is her sense of adventure and trust in serendipity. “For each new collection, I try to make a challenge for myself,” she notes. “And when I start, I can never guess where the pattern will take me.”