Seeking a Creative Jolt? Welcome to the Kneeland Co. Research Library

The textile expert Joanna Williams is introducing a new phase of her already multi-textured LA-based business. Alongside her Textile Studio, Kneeland Co. and Online Marketplace, Kneeland Mercado, Joanna has found yet another way to share her love of design, textiles, magazines, books, imagery and objects with the public. This summer she launches the Kneeland Co Research Library, a by-appointment-only archive of objects collected by Joanna over the past twenty years. The purpose here is to provide a creative jolt to those in need, which is exactly what I received while visiting the Library last week. After browsing through piles of Victorian lace, prints from the 1930s and one of the prettiest books on interior design I had ever seen, I felt inspired and ready to get to work. My sweet pal Joanna can say it better than I can, so check out our interview below…

Heather Taylor: What was your idea behind opening the Kneeland Co Research library?

Joanna Williams: It’s actually something I have been thinking about for the past few years. I’ve amassed an incredible collection of magazine tear sheets and books on design, fashion, art, textiles, and objects over the years and I always wanted to catalog them and figure out a way to share them with the rest of the world. Fashion magazines played a big role in my life growing up and allowed me to daydream and escape from the small town I grew up in.  They really gave me a fresh, creative perspective on the world and I just knew that I had to dream big and live an inspiring life.  I was exposed to a lot of culture at a very young age through traveling and hanging out with my older brother whom I looked up to, and I started reading a lot of music magazines and lifestyle magazines like Hobo, Index, Bikini, etc. It allowed me to tie everything together and really develop my own personal aesthetic. Many of those magazines closed a long time ago so I feel fortunate to still have some of them.  I always joke that magazines saved my life, but I think it’s kind of true!  I started my blog, Keep Feeling Fascination, in 2007 with the idea of posting inspiring images from some of my favorite magazines and it felt so gratifying.  Since then I’ve started my own Textile and Consulting Studio as well as an online store and have developed a really solid network of clients, and during that time my library of research material has grown even more. I thought it seemed like the right time to offer this creative service.

HT: How can someone use it?

JW: Clients can either visit and comb through curated images that are organized by fashion editorials, fashion ads, interiors, travel, and shopping, or search through books and magazines focused on photography, musicians, graphics, textiles, decorating, and much more. In other words, it’s a more organic and exploratory way of doing research.  In addition, consulting is offered on various topics.  For example, a client can get in touch with a specific interest such as “1970’s California surf culture” or “Post-War Modernism in Interiors” and based on those topics a variety of images and research will be edited, organized and presented.  The Research Library is open by appointment.

HT: What are your five favorite items in the KCRL?

JW: My collection of Index Magazines, early 2000’s fashion ads, a vintage book on Nigerian nomads, old Mark Borthwick tear sheets, and books by David Hicks

HT: Where do YOU go for inspiration?

JW: Everywhere!  I’m inspired by many things and many aesthetics.  I love traveling for inspiration and I also like being around and meeting interesting, inspiring people.  And of course I have my favorite top secret places that I frequent for inspiration.  ; )

HT: What’s on your inspiration board?

JW: Photos of textile designer and Russian socialite Olya Thompson, Art Deco embroidery swatches, the forever boss Kate Moss, photos of Dries Van Noten’s garden in Antwerp, 1940’s floral prints, a photo of Carolina Herrera-Baez wearing a blue and white dress sitting on an armchair with her son against a blue and white toile rooster curtain, a sequined embroidered ballerina I found in Mexico, one of my custom embellishment designs, and a photo of Guinevere Van Seenus lounging in a pile of flowers.

HT: What’s new and exciting in Kneeland Mercado?

JW: For the online store, Kneeland Mercado, I’m focusing more on collaborations with artists who work in many different mediums to create exclusive products.  There will be more one-of-a-kind products that you won’t be able to find anywhere else.

HT: Favorites of the moment…

Magazine? Apartamento, World of Interiors, Porter (for the editorials), L’Officiel
Album? Electrelane – The Power Out (oldie but goodie)
Movie? Obvious Child
City to visit? Always Paris and Mexico City
Nail polish color? YSL Safran
Piece of business advice? Take risks and don’t be afraid to fail, for failure is a mask for a better opportunity. 
Place to get a chai tea latte? Random Tea Room in Philadelphia