Home & Garden

Fashion designer Cynthia Rowley turns her sights on furniture

Designer Cynthia Rowley enjoys a room full of her new collection for Hooker Furniture.
Designer Cynthia Rowley enjoys a room full of her new collection for Hooker Furniture. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

She has designed everything from wet suits to handbags to dresses. Now it’s dressers for Cynthia Rowley, an award-winning fashion designer and all around lifestyle inspiration.

Her 150-piece collection for Hooker Furniture, which debuted at the High Point Fall Market in North Carolina, has three categories, or personas as she likes to call them: Pretty, Curious and Sporty. The 40 upholstery pieces by Sam Moore include eight sofas, two sectionals, 15 chairs, several ottomans and a daybed, all available in 60 Cynthia Rowley fabrics.

Rowley loves to push the boundaries of what is possible. One example is using her fabric designs on upholstery and on case goods. “I think it’s a good thing I don’t really have experience making furniture,” she said.

In early meetings people would be talking about case goods, and finally she asked what that meant. (It’s wood furniture such as beds, dressers and tables that are not upholstered.) “I really had no idea, and I am still learning all these terms after a year in the making,” she admitted.

“I would say, ‘Why can’t we put this fabric pattern on a chest?’ To Hooker’s credit, they never said, ‘We can’t.’ They were willing to try.”

Since we have moved away from matchy-matchy dressing in fashion, why have that constraint at home? Rowley asked.

If you buy just one piece to add to your home and it doesn’t go with what you have, that is what’s good. It should be what you love, not what matches.

Cynthia Rowley, furniture and fashion designer

“If you buy just one piece to add to your home and it doesn’t go with what you have, that is what’s good. It should be what you love, not what matches,” she said. “If it sticks out as awkward, that is what is exciting.”

The collection’s designs reflect her many interests. She is sporty, a surfer, when she has the time. She loves beauty and elegance but is also captivated by things that are a bit quirky or curious.

“The bones are more classic, but we are dressing it up with the slipcovers and hardware,” she said.

Some examples: A metal chair with a removable sheepskin cover. A Semainier chest that has pale blue interior drawers with the days of week written inside. A bachelor’s chest with eglomise panels of gilded glass.

So many jewelry-like details dress up the furniture.

“I want to make things that sell,” she said. “I don’t want to make crazy things, so we made things just because we love them.”

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