Spotlight On Tori Mellott, Style Director at Schumacher 1889

You’ve just started working again with your mentor, Dara Caponigro, Schumacher’s Creative Director. What are you most looking forward to about working with her?
Dara is someone I’ve admired for a very long time. Even before we started working together at Elle Décor, and then Domino, I would pour over the stories she produced, and I always knew which ones she had worked on without even glancing at the byline – her aesthetic is so distinct and her eye so sophisticated. She was someone I aspired to learn from, and the fact that I’m now getting to work for her for a third time is like a dream come true.

What part of the Schumacher collection are you most excited to work with?
I’m excited for all of it! Schumacher is so unique in that there is something for everyone – there are quiet designs that might appeal to someone with more spartan decorating proclivities, and then there are bold, floral chintzes that might be attractive to someone with a more theatrical design tendency, and everything in between. I’m eager to tell stories about all of the collections that the talented design team has so masterfully created.

Which are your favorite pieces from the Schumacher archive, and why?
Currently, I’m really into designs from the ’30s and ’40s that are reminiscent of the illustrator Virginia Lee Burton – there was a specific stylized artistic movement that seemed to define that period, and the Schumacher archive is bursting with so many remarkable examples of this style. However, the design team usually transforms the historic document by tweaking it in such a way that it feels fresh and modern.  Sometimes they recolor, sometimes they change the scale, and sometimes they completely deconstruct it and rework the document – whatever changes they make, it always transports the design into the present.

 

Virginia Lee Burton’s illustrations

 

Can you talk about any Schumacher-centric rooms by designers you admire that have had a big influence on your style?
I’d say the Schumacher-dipped room that’s had the most impact on me is probably Nancy Pyne’s living room designed by Albert Hadley that features the “Pyne Hollyhock” floral chintz – that room speaks to me on a visceral level. Other collections that have tugged at the strings of my heart are Mary McDonald’s first collection and Miles Redd’s first collection. Both watershed launches, in my opinion.

 

Schumacher’s “Pyne Hollyhock” which Albert Hadley used in Nancy Pyne’s Living Room

 

Do you remember when you first learned about Schumacher and what your take was at that time?
Of course! I remember it precisely! I was sitting on the floor of Elaine Wrightman’s office when I was an assistant editor at House Beautiful magazine. She and Carolyn Sollis were working on a monthly story they produced called “Swatch Watch”, and they had asked me to attend the meeting. Never had I seen so many beautiful fabrics! They were working on a toile story (in fact, I believe I learned the word “toile” that day as well), and there was a red-and-white pastoral scene that I fell hard for. Over the years, there have been so many moments like that – fabric patterns just seared into my memory and my heart. In fact, one of the first stories that Dara and I worked on at Domino was a chair story, and we upholstered a chair in Kelly Wearstler’s iconic green and white lattice fabric. Schumacher has been a major part of my design experience from the very beginning, and has certainly played a vital role informing my personal design aesthetic.

You’ve said you have Schumacher in your own home. Can you tell us a little about what you have?
I’m a serial mover and a frustrated decorator, which is a ruinous combo! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve redecorated. I’ve used numerous Schumacher fabrics throughout the years. I once had a lipstick red velvet sofa that I trimmed in the silk Etienne Greek key trim – that was dynamite! However, I moved a year later, and fell in love with a striped wallpaper that didn’t mesh with the red velvet, so I slipcovered the sofa in a mushroom-colored washed linen – it was heaven. Most recently, I designed my sister’s house, and I used Lotus Garden in the powder room, the very sweet pink and aubergine hand-printed linen, Bunny, in the guest room, a blue Gainsborough velvet on a bench, and a lovely white linen on her sofa (WHITE LINEN ON A SOFA – WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?).

 

 

Tori’s Instagram feed

Your Instagram feed is beloved! Where do you find your inspirations?
I find inspiration everywhere. I kind of get obsessed with things – could be anything from NYC street scenes from the ’70s, or socialites skiing in Verbier, or promotional posters depicting families picnicking in the Redwood forests, or skateboard culture, or South Korean cartoons, or rooms with tented ceilings, or artists in their apartments, or the finest intaglio collection in the world – and I research it until I’m visually fatigued. I have a hard time sleeping, so I find this is a productive activity. (Full disclosure: I actually donate money to Wikipedia, because I use it so often I feel like I owe it to them!)

Your two adorable little girls are often on your Insta feed. Any advice for living with children together with design objects, furniture, and fabrics?
Life certainly changes with children. When they started crawling, every knickknack, tchotchke, and breakable went as high up on the shelf as I could get it. I cleared every surface. Babies and toddlers want to investigate everything! Now that they’re almost seven, I’ve been slowly introducing more and more objets to surfaces and in and around the apartment. Also, performance fabric is a must with kids! If you have any important furniture that you’re hoping to cash in to provide college tuition, I’d say sell it or put it in storage! I know that’s not what people want to hear, but it’s the cold hard truth – kids are hard on upholstery and furniture!

 

 

For someone new to Schumacher, how would you recommend starting out with the brand?
I recommend diving right in! Sign up for our Style Dispatch Newsletter, sign up for our in-house print magazine, The Bulletin, and just poke around the website and explore the beauty of Schumacher. And then, of course, when you’re ready, swath your entire home with your favorites!

How would you describe your style, and are there any trends in the marketplace that you’re excited about?
My style is constantly evolving on a granular level. For instance, I might tire of pink walls and paint them chocolate brown, or I might switch out my floral chintz curtains for a silk stripe. However, the foundation of what I’m attracted to is pretty unshakable; I would say I’m drawn to classical shapes and silhouettes, symmetry, comfort, color, and pattern. I typically cobble all of these together in a manner that is best described as a few parts girlie, a few parts old-fashioned, a few parts tailored, and a few parts Bohemian.

As for trends, I don’t place any value in them. I have to pay attention to them because it’s my job to know what’s going on, but I typically don’t let them influence my choices.

Shop Schumacher’s Collection on Sotheby’s Home

 

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