Design Doyenne

Pollack textiles’ Rachel Doriss is often inspired by water
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Rachel Doriss
Rachel Doriss, shown in the Pollack Studio, grew up on water and loved experiencing tidal changes and observing the effects of water on the shoreline. Her designs can be found at the Michigan Design Center in Troy at the Tennant & Associates showroom.

As vice president and design director of the textile studio Pollack in New York City, Rachel Doriss — together with her team — is constantly inventing new designs for the luxury-home, contract, and hospitality business. The company launches two collections annually, and they’re always spectacular. 

We caught up with Doriss at the Michigan Design Center in Troy, where Pollack textiles are represented by Tennant & Associates in Studio 61. The designer says each piece of fabric has a story that starts with a hand drawing.

“That’s what sets us apart from other companies — we’re designing the fabric from the ground up, like architects. It’s not just about a pattern or a print and a theme; it’s about the whole cloth,” she says. 

fabric samples
True Horizon comes in multiple color themes.

The fiber, the yarn, how it’s colored, its construction, the finishing, and the end use are all considered in Pollack’s textile designs. Developing a fabric takes six months to a year, says Doriss, who works with more than 100 state-of-the-art mills. Most are located in the United States and Europe, and each has a specialty.

“In every collection, I try to have one fabric that pushes the boundaries,” the designer says. On the Fringe, from Pollack’s 2023 spring collection, is one of those. Doriss knew the only mill that could pull off the extremely complicated design was one in India that does hand-weaving.

Cape Cod native Doriss, 47, fell in love with textiles as a young girl. Her grandmother taught her how to sew, knit, crochet, and weave. She later studied art at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, then transferred to the Rhode Island School of Design for textiles, where she earned a BFA. After a stint at luxury scarf-maker Echo Design, she joined Pollack as a designer under celebrated co-founder Mark Pollack in 2000. She’s been in her current position since 2012, and lauds her four-person staff: “They bring amazing things to the table that I wouldn’t have thought of. It’s very much a collective, and each designer gets credit for their work, which a lot of companies don’t do.” 

As for the ebb and flow of her design inspirations, much comes from water.

pillows
The True Horizon pattern in the pillow (front) showcases water and sky appeal.

“I grew up on water,” Doriss says. “Experiencing tidal changes and observing the effects of water on the shoreline has always fed me inspiration for organic patterns, surfaces, and reflections. I’ll never tire of trying to capture some of those moments in cloth.”

Two of Doriss’ designs for Pollack are in the permanent collection of New York’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum. She has homes in Brooklyn and the Hudson Valley, where she lives with her teen-aged daughter, who’s taking weaving lessons and is already a creative soul. MORE INFORMATION: 

michigandesigncenter.com,
pollackassociates.com

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