Sometimes even the best decorators get stumped when looking for the perfect accent for a room. Such was the case when Rebecca Vizard was designing a home in 1994 for a Manhattan client. Vizard looked high and low for the perfect throw pillows and came up empty. Then she, quite literally, took matters into her own hands.
On a scouting trip to New York’s 26th Street Flea Market, Vizard stumbled on some vintage gold filigree border that once donned a pair of antique draperies. The faded curtains had just the worn patina she was looking for. Vizard, who was an art major at Sophie Newcomb College, envisioned the draperies’ cording on a velvet backing, and voila! A niche market design business was born.
Today, Vizard’s pillows punctuate some of the most elegant homes in America and have been featured in top decorator magazines. The simple designs incorporate clean lines, a respect for antique and vintage fabrics from all over the world, and the highest standards of craftsmanship.
“A beautiful throw pillow is like jewelry for your room,” says Vizard. “It can bring a whole room together in the way that a perfect pair of earrings can set off a ball gown.” And a throw pillow from B.Viz, her design business, does just that.
“The antique fabrics I use come from all over the world. I travel to Turkey to find embroidery from the Ottoman Empire, tapestries from France and Italy. I even have a supplier from Uzbekistan who sends me beautiful old Suzani fabrics. Through each piece of fabric I find, I learn about the culture and people behind it,” she says.
Not locked into one signature look, Vizard’s pillows span the design spectrum. Her fabrics range from antique Fortuny Egyptian cotton and French Aubusson rugs to home spun antique linen. Colors range from soft washed-out neutrals to vivid, eye-popping hues. All pillows make the fabric the star, and there are no fancy fringes to detract from the elegance and simplicity of the textiles. After more than 20 years of designing, she can look at a fabric and tell the story behind each piece. “I look for fabrics that are slightly worn, and I’d never cut into an antique or vintage fabric that was perfect. There’s a fine line between saving something old and destroying it,” she adds.
What makes her business most remarkable is that every element takes place in Vizard’s home town of St. Joseph, Louisiana, population 1100, a town so small she can’t buy thread in a local store. All of the exquisite handwork is done by area craftswomen, trained by Vizard. There are no industrial machines, rather all sewing is done by hand or on a traditional home sewing machine by skilled seamstresses. The process of creating a pillow is slow and laborious. Cutting of fabrics and trim is often done with cuticle scissors. Stitching of the cording is done by hand. “My seamstresses love what they do and it shows,” she says. “These pillows have transformed their lives and mine.”
Vizard’s pillows can be purchased locally at Bremermann Designs on Magazine Street, in some of the best-known stores in the country and online at BViz.com. Her book about her textiles, “Once Upon a Pillow” will be published this fall. With prices ranging from $300-$3000 per pillow, they are created to last generations. Just like a treasured piece of art or jewelry, these pillows will add beauty to any setting and give the owner a lifetime of pleasure.
Use throw pillows sparingly, unless you are going for a Bohemian look.
Throw pillows should add a finishing touch and not dominate the room.
Think of size and proportion. A long, oversize pillow belongs on a king size bed. Two small pillows can soften the edge of a sofa.
Pick a pillow from your heart. It is a work of art.