Wallcovering designs, such as Form illustrate Porter Teleo’s fluid, expressive approach.
Exploration and introspection are at the heart of Porter Teleo—artist Kelly Porter and interior designer Bridgett Cochran’s Kansas City, Missouri-based textile and wallcoverings brand beloved for its painterly palettes and poetic motifs. With a new business model, fresh pattern releases and a second line with Schumacher on the way, this duo is poised for a big year.
Has there been an upside to the challenges of the past year? KP: Change can be met with frustration and hesitation or it can be met with excitement and innovation. We put ourselves through a process of learning and looked at every section of our business. What adjustments did you make? BC: We’re doubling-down on our textile line and releasing 15 patterns, including some of our best performing wallcovering designs, such as Kintsugi, Pétales and Form. We also pulled out of showrooms. We require a lot of one-on-one communication with designers. Removing the middle man has been rewarding and enlightening.
Is there an advantage to being in Kansas City in that you’re more insulated from trends?
KP: Insulation is exactly right. To create something new, you have to exclude the outer world. There is a theme of companies doing what’s trending, what sells. We never go down that path; we never play it safe. Every time we put a big piece of Japanese paper flooded with pigments on the table, the designers are so excited.
Love that! How does human touch shape your designs? BC: We mix color by hand. Our artists have the freedom to express an aesthetic. We explore, ‘How wild can this mark be? How opaque can this flower be?’ It matters, for the world and humanity, that our products are made in this way.
Why is supporting women integral to your brand? KP: With a majority of female employees, there is a respectful and supportive energy exchanged throughout the day. We’ve learned from covering each other on maternity leave. If life hadn’t thrown us curveballs, we wouldn’t have adapted and diversified in ways that have benefited us.
If Porter Teleo drapery is framing the windows at a dinner party, what should the guests notice? KP: Our patterns are never repeated. There will be highs and lows and pockets of pigment. It offers the sense of something larger, like experiencing fine art with positive and negative space.