Tobi Fairley is known for her impressive use of colors and patterns — a talent in the design world that truly takes a master. Her style is iconic, pairing bold statements with thoughtful details. (Need we remind you of this impressive penthouse in Little Rock??) And the designer is constantly evolving, recently transforming her business to include a full-service consulting company, providing education, mentoring, and tools to help companies and design firms improve their business.
We’re excited to mention that, in addition to the above, the designer has partnered with Duralee — one of our favorite resources for quality textiles and upholstery. Working closely with the Duralee team, Tobi created a line of fabrics that show off her signature style. The collection is a kaleidoscope of color — mixing vibrant hues with with natural accents for a truly tailored design. And since it’s all with Duralee, you can easily mix & match within any budget.
We were excited to see this collaboration come to life and wanted to know more! Today, we’re chatting with Tobi about design, business, and all things Duralee:
It seems like design comes so naturally for you. When did you first know you wanted to be a designer?
I think my love of design has always been grounded in a drive for problem solving. When I was a child, I would gather pine needles in the yard and then I would build them into 6-inch high “walls” and create floor plans – arranging and rearranging these “rooms” until I was satisfied. Then I’d cart out all my dolls and other belongings to decorate my pine needle house. I’m always thinking function first, I guess!
My mother has an amazing eye for color and scale, and she instilled so much of her creative gift in me just by cultivating an always-lovely and inviting environment for our family and our guests. Her attention to detail is also impeccable, and she is without question the entertaining expert of the family!
What’s something — a little known fact — that our readers might be surprised to know?
People probably wouldn’t know that I love to fish! My family has a river house here in Arkansas and I love to relax with a long boat ride and fish with my husband, my daughter, and our friends.
We love that! Okay, back to work. Start to finish, what is a typical day like for you in the Tobi Fairley offices?
There is no such thing as a typical day! [laughing] With an interior design business, a consulting business, and my product lines, every single day is different. In general, I like to take a long walk before I get into the office and start my day. It really clears my head and gets me energized. My calendar is always blocked out so I know ahead of time if the day will be a creative one in my design workroom, if I’ll be crunching numbers with a consulting client to help them better their business, or if I’ll be cooking up a new business venture. Having my calendar blocked like that helps me stay focused on what needs to be done. And I like to wrap up the day by at least 5:30pm so I can spend the evenings with my daughter and husband. It takes a lot of discipline to get a lot done in a day!
And now you’ve launched your debut collection with Duralee! Tell us about that. What was your inspiration?
I love to work with pattern and color, so I knew that I wanted to create fabrics that really combined those ideas. The patterns were inspired by classic and traditional motifs – but I updated them in new and fresh ways by playing with scale and detail. As for the colors, I’m always inspired by fashion and I love to look ahead to see what’s on the cutting edge as far as color palettes.
What was the process like, and how did you enjoy working with Duralee?
The team at Duralee is an absolute dream to work with! They are great partners who really gave me an amazing insight into fabric construction. The team is extremely knowledgable about the possibilities and what the consumer wants. But they also let me have a lot of creative freedom in designing the collection. Duralee really looked to me for the color direction for my collection since that’s my sweet spot. The process was a lot of fun — I loved selecting the fabric construction for each pattern and then seeing the designs on those ground cloths for the first time. After almost two years of working together, there was a little tweaking to get the colors just right, but once we did, it was magic! I couldn’t be more proud of what we created together.
Any stand-out favorites from the collection?
I’m particularly fond of La Petite Roche — it’s such a great mineral pattern and the color combinations are spot-on. And of course I love that it’s named for my hometown of Little Rock. I would say that Rivers is a close second. It’s a fabulous faux bois velvet that has incredible depth and dimension.
Both are stunning. So, you’re known for bold colors, which can be intimidating to many when it comes to their homes. What are your top tips for decorating with color?
I always tell people that they should select their paint color last, and instead find the color palette inspiration from something like a fabric or a piece of art in the room. If someone is a little nervous about using a lot of color, they should start with a neutral base on walls and major upholstery pieces and build in color with accessories. That way you don’t have a major color commitment — you can easily change out accessories. Or you could go bolder in smaller room like a powder room. That gives you a place to experiment with color until you feel more comfortable.
Great advice! Okay, now the toughest question of the day. If you could only use ONE color for the rest of your design career, what would it be?
First of all, that would be SO hard for me! My favorite color is kelly green, but I think I’d actually choose a blue instead. It’s truly the world’s favorite color, so I think it would be a great choice.
To bring the Tobi Fairley + Duralee collection into your own home, click here.