Avril Loreti loves colour. Her light-filled studio located on the second floor of her west-end Toronto home is bursting with colour and pattern. A cork-covered wall — her mood board — sits on one side of the room and is filled with inspiration: a rainbow of colourful illustrations and random words, photographs and pages torn from a sketchbook. “I’m really into dusty rose right now, a good dusty rose,” Loreti says, and she instinctively reaches forward for her watercolour paints. “I want to mix it for you right now.”
Loreti is a Toronto-based artist and textile designer who is always dreaming up ideas for her colourful line of fabrics and accessories. Whether it’s a geometric patterned pillow or a citrusy coloured tea towel, Loreti is hands on with every aspect of her business and has just launched her first national product line with Canadian Tire for their Canvas patio collection.
We caught up with the busy designer and mom to peek into her studio and creative process.
Let’s talk about your background. What were you doing before you started your business?
I’ve been artsy my whole life and always trying anything that was in the arts and creative. I went to University of Toronto and Sheridan College for a joint program in Art and Art History. At the time, I was really into photography too. I then worked at a photo gallery, at Visual Arts Ontario in an art admin job and then I did a couple of years at Caban, a modern lifestyle store. I worked on the visual team there and that definitely started helping me narrow in to the idea of making home decor items and the idea of beautiful things for your home. That was a game changer. I could imagine my art in someone’s home and the idea of everyday art was something that was inspiring to me.
How did you get started designing textiles?
It totally started with Etsy. Because of Caban, I started seeing how you can come up with an idea and how could you put that idea on a product so that people could bring that into their home. In 2007, I kept hearing about Etsy and I set up a little site and got in contact with some consignment shops in the city and just started selling. People were responding quickly.
Canadian Tire contacted me last winter about their Designed in Canada Series, exclusively for Canvas. Every season they collaborate with a new designer. They asked if I’d be interested in doing a patio collection and of course I was really excited about it, it’s so Canadian. The series is a fun way to celebrate Canadian design. I drew inspiration for collection from ’60s retro-mod pop culture. Everything from ’60s movies, to fashion, to what was hot on the dance floor. I wanted to really express that retro, youthful energy in way that felt very vibrant for this summer’s patio season.
Where do you typically find inspiration?
I get inspiration from just about everywhere. I’m always looking for interesting shapes and colour combinations. Going out into nature, visiting antique shops, museums and parks with my son, and just walking around my neighbourhood and the city. I always have a little sketch book in my purse and my phone at the ready to jot down little inspirations as I see them.
How do your products come to life? What’s your design process?
It is funny how my design process has to always start with just cleaning my studio. Putting away some ideas from the last season to make space for new ideas. My favourite thing to do is to mix colours. I could do it all day long. Mixing paints or going through my Pantone books and just picking cool colour combinations, it’s my happy place.
I like making a mood board on my wall of pictures and words that I’m starting to think of or trends that I’m starting to see. Sometimes I’ll pull little sketches from my sketch book on the wall. Then you can kind of start seeing it come together. Then I sit down and create, which is the fun part.
What’s next? Can we get a hint of what is inspiring you for upcoming collections?
My son Reggie, a toddler, and his view on the world are giving me ideas. I did a little run of baby blankets and growth charts last Christmas that went really well. So, I’d like to explore doing a children’s line of products. I like the idea of making my art a part of childhood memories. I’m also trying to shake things up. I love geometric pattern but I’m exploring how can I start introducing organic shapes. I also would love to do a line of bedding.
What’s your advice to people who want to bring pattern and colour into their home?
Trust their guts with colour and pattern. If you love it, go for it.