Where do patterns come from? While some might be computer-generated using the latest in image scanning and digital printing technologies, many more can be sourced to the Design Library—the world’s largest collection of patterns.
Located about 75 minutes from Manhattan in the Hudson Valley village of Wappingers Falls, the Design Library holds more than 7 million different documentary fabrics, original paintings, wallpapers, embroideries, and yarn dyes inside a huge, 12,000-square foot converted fabric mill. Designers hailing from couture fashion brands, as well as those from national chains and big-box stores, all travel to the library to find historical material to use, adapt, and remix in service of their own creative vision.
“The idea here is to get [the patterns] back out into the world and let the world see them recreated, even duplicated,” says Peter Koepke, the owner of the Design Library.
Koepke worked at the library for 12 years before buying it from its founder, the textile designer Susan Meller, in 2002. Meller and her husband, Herb, founded the library in 1972, when they realized that there was a market among designers for their personal collection of textiles and patchwork quilts. The patterns come from all over the world, but particularly from France and Italy. It was Koepke, whose previous career involved hunting down and trading South American tribal pottery and textile art, who turned the library into the diverse creative resource it is today. He continues to acquire pattern collections that are historically important, but also have the potential to transcend their original context and appeal to designers today.