Thomas O’Brien, New York City-based designer, founder of design firm Aero Studios, and all-around tastemaker, boasts an eponymous collection of bedding, home textiles and housewares at Target.
Thomas has an aesthetic that is impossible to describe in one word. Skirting the line between vintage and modern, luxe and comfort, Thomas O’ Brien Vintage Modern has been a Target staple for more than six years. As the designer himself says, his collection is all about “finding the modern in the traditional, and the traditional in the modern.”
Below, Thomas gives us the scoop on his inspiration and process.
Once you’re inspired, what’s the first step in your design process?
Thomas O’Brien: For me, it’s important to work ideas out by drawing them. I still sketch everything first by hand. Then, I typically bring in vintage items, materials and images I’ve collected to look at all together.
Are mood and inspiration boards an important part of your process?
TO: Absolutely. They are a way to show the whole creative process that we go through, from a starting concept to all the variations of a final design—the colors, the pattern and the scale of things. We do a board for every product direction that is designed and presented, as well as for all the projects in my interiors studio.
click through some Thomas O’Brien design inspirations
We love the patterns—very menswear-inspired! How did you select these?
TO: I wanted to design a group of bedding that related to the world of clothing and fashion. Many of the patterns are based on things out of my own wardrobe. I’ve collected vintage textiles and clothing for years—all kinds of classic stripes and subtle prints, and interesting fabrics like yarn-dyed shirt cloth and ikat. I was thinking about modern classics that are tailored and easy, like putting on a great jacket with a favorite shirt, scarf, or tie, and how to translate that into sheets, pillows and duvets.
What is your favorite part of the design process?
TO: I always like the process of finding the new idea in a vintage inspiration. For me it is about locating the modern in the traditional, or seeing what is classic and traditional in something modern.
How can the Target guest use your line to update their home?
TO: The bedding is designed to work together like different pieces of clothing, so it is easy to mix and match in many different ways. You can use the patterns and stripes as neutrals along with bedding you already have. Or, the solid sheets come in several rich modern shades that can update a more traditional bed. Add a different pillowcase or a printed sheet as an accent for a more interesting layered look. Even just changing a duvet can give your bed a new identity.