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Textile, Tulip Scatter, 1970–1979

This is a Textile. It was designed by D.D. Tillett and Leslie Tillett. It is dated 1970–1979 and we acquired it in 2015. Its medium is cotton and its technique is screen printed on plain weave. It is a part of the Textiles department.

In his seminal 1976 book, The Dyer’s Art: Ikat, Batik, Plangi, Jack Lenor Larsen wrote:
“Without doubt one of the most successful combinations of innovation, craft and commerce in recent times has emanated from the various Tillett print studios.”
The market dominance, strong branding, and long-term success of large companies like Knoll, Herman Miller, and Larsen Inc. can sometimes overshadow the contributions of small-run textile producers. From the 1950s through the 1970s, D.D. and Leslie Tillett designed and printed custom yardage in their live/work space on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. They were very highly regarded as designers and design thinkers -- their opinion was sought on everything from automobile design to providing employment in underdeveloped communities. There was regular coverage of the Tillett’s activities in the design press, and the inclusion of Tillett fabrics in important interiors like the Kennedy White House, as well as in contemporary exhibitions of good design, like MoMA’s Textiles USA, kept them in the public eye, despite their small-scale, hand-made approach to design.
D.D.’s loosely-drawn florals and Leslie’s playful sourcing from historic documents reveal fresh and original aesthetic. Other small-run producers, like Angelo Testa and Ben Rose, were favorites of architects, but the Tilletts, with their every-piece-is-custom business model, were beloved of interior designers. Their technical innovations and intensive hand-production techniques often involved direct application of ink to cloth, giving and immediacy and uniqueness to everything they did.
D.D. Tillett’s style was characterized by her loosely-drawn flower studies, which brought freshness and vitality to the long tradition of floral-patterned textiles. Here, bunches of cut tulips are scattered as though left on the table until the right vase is found. The neutral color scheme of gray and white, along with the hurried brushstroke treatment of the leaves, reinforces the sketch-like quality.

This object was donated by Seth Tillett and Nicole Rauscher. It is credited Gift of Seth Tillett and Nicole Rauscher.

Its dimensions are

H x W: 195.9 × 148.6 cm (77 1/8 × 58 1/2 in.)

Cite this object as

Textile, Tulip Scatter, 1970–1979; Designed by D.D. Tillett and Leslie Tillett; cotton; H x W: 195.9 × 148.6 cm (77 1/8 × 58 1/2 in.); Gift of Seth Tillett and Nicole Rauscher; 2015-16-1

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Textile, Tulip Scatter, 1970–1979 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=16 September 2021 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>