Early on, Sumitra Mattai realized that everything around her was designed and created by someone, and she indeed wanted to be that someone.“I always knew I loved textiles, and when I doodled, I doodled in pattern,” says Mattai, now Scalamandré’s senior design director. Growing up in suburban New Jersey with influences from her Guyanese and Indian heritage, Mattai says she couldn’t deny the creative pull.
Founded in 1929 by Franco Scalamandré, an Italian immigrant with an engineering background, Scalamandré saw an opportunity for creating silks domestically in lieu of importing them from abroad. Success swiftly followed. From famous estates to the White House to one particular Wes Anderson film, the brand’s designs have made their mark on American culture.
Three years into the role, Mattai is off and running with her natural gift for product design—fashion, fine art and the brand’s archives all inform her ideas. And she has acknowledged that the fabric house means different things to different people, whether it’s a loyal client of 50 years or someone who has recently discovered the company by way of their new partnership with The Inside.
As for what’s next, the Sahara collection will debut later this year. Inspired by North Africa, the line boasts large-scale patterns and rich colors. Plus, there’s a new Leaping Cheetah design—a play on the infamous Zebra wallpaper. Surely, this is just the beginning for Mattai. “The magic of seeing something I draw or paint come back as a beautiful design…it never gets old,” she says.