March 10, 2021

Heritage Brand Sister Parish Collaborates with Parsons School of Design on New Textile Course

A student created an art installation with repurposed carpeting from Sister Parish. Photography courtesy of Sister Parish. 

Dorothy May Kinnicutt, known as Sister Parish (“Sister” being a family nickname and Parish the surname of her husband) brought interior design to the fore of the American public with the decorating business she founded during the Depression, which evolved into her namesake brand. She even helped Jacqueline Kennedy decorate the White House. A cornerstone in the history of design, her signature American country style features layers of colorful, patterned textiles. Kinnicutt’s granddaughter and great-granddaughter relaunched the brand in 2000 to bring its aesthetics into the next century, complete with environmentally-conscious practices. Since then, the female-owned and operated textile production company has worked to innovate and honor the legacy of the bold patterns Sister Parish favored. 

Sister Parish and her granddaughter, Susan Crater, who is now company president. Photography courtesy of Sister Parish. 

Tapping into emerging design talent, the Sister Parish brand recently partnered with the Parsons School of Design, creating a course for the school’s MFA Textiles program, first offered in the fall of 2020. Focused on the history and future of American craft, students are encouraged to apply their knowledge of technology and sustainability to their textile creations and installations. Those enrolled also have a chance to have their work featured among the brand’s offerings. Reflecting Sister Parish’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, the course is designed around the concept of repurposing and upcycling its home textiles and wallcoverings. MFA Textile program director Preeti Gopinath shares that this experience “gave our students the ability to research, innovate, and propose new concepts and ideas to one of the world’s most iconic design brands.” 

Contemporary Sister Parish textiles as seen in the bedding, lampshade, and this chic stuffed animal. Photography courtesy of Sister Parish. 
One student repurposed the brand’s textiles into an artful room divider. Photography courtesy of Sister Parish. 

Recent DesignWire