How Do Our Designers Find Inspiration?

Monica Thornton, Phifer Designer
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Whether you’re looking to transition the look of your outdoor home space along with a new season or you’re simply in the mood for a change, it’s always helpful to get fresh ideas and inspiration. Getting started and finding sources of creativity can be tricky. So we sat down with one of our very own product designers, Monica Thornton, to learn about her sources of inspiration and how she uses them to create a new product look. Learn more about how designers find inspiration with Phifer product design experts.

Sources of Design Inspiration

Question #1: Where do you start when looking for product design inspiration?

Answer: “I’ve traveled a lot, so I have been exposed to design elements from many different cultures. I love handmade pieces and detail, and I love combining different pieces from different journeys.”

Question #2: What do you remember being your first source of inspiration?

Answer: “I’ve always loved the detail and colors associated with Eastern art and décor. As a child, my mother gave me a necklace with a cloisonné bead that was so beautiful to me. I loved the bold lacquered colors with the gold outlines of the pattern. That was probably where my love for Asian inspiration started for me. I just love the unique detail and rich colors.”

Collecting and Curating Product Design

Question #3: You mentioned you love bold color. How do you use it and bring it all together using fabric and decor?

Answer: “I’m very drawn to bold colors and the energy they bring. One of my favorite artists is Paul Gauguin because of his use of strong, pure color. I’m drawn to strong, primary colors and find that they can be used as the focal point of any space and accented with bold patterns to create a customized look.”

Question #4: What tips do you have for tying different fabrics and elements together?

Answer: Start by using two to three colors that work with your outdoor space and speak to your heart.  Make sure they are colors that relax and inspire you. Then choose one signature fabric (perhaps one of our curated outdoor fabrics) that really makes the statement, make sure it is something that really stands out. Use it liberally and let that fabric become your focal point or your main accent fabric. As for your secondary fabrics, neutral colors work best on larger scaled furniture cushions and have more longevity.  If you are like me and love incorporating strong color, use it for pillows so that you can change them out seasonally. Use several sizes of pillows for a layered effect and welt in a contrasting color fabric for added pop. Finally, think about other ways of using your color scheme.  Maybe purchase planters, serve ware or other outdoor accessories in these same colors to complete your outdoor space.

Using Current Trends for Design Inspiration

Question #5: What colors and themes are you loving right now?

Answer: “I love navy blue. I always have, but I love how it truly has become a color that—although bold—can be considered a neutral.  I also love incorporating aqua with navy; it’s bold yet very sophisticated. The “back to nature” theme that we’re seeing resonates with me the most.  For me, the colors of nature are calming and provide an opportunity for me to reset and reconnect.

Question #5: What are some of your favorite GeoBella Fabrics to use right now and how would you bring them together?

Answer:  I love the eclectic tribal style in the contemporary black and grey color scheme, so to create an eclectic modern atmosphere: I would take a base cloth fabric of GeoBella Rock Solid Fog, and use GeoBella Eaton Onyx as my focal point (both can be found in the Modern Classics Collection). My bold color pop would be created by using solid pillow fabrics in GeoBella Vibe Red Mountain and Vibe Aqua.  I love the mix of warm and cool colors when used together.

Shop Phifer for Exterior & Interior Design Inspiration

Inspiration can come from many avenues, but it’s best when it comes from the heart. Whether it’s a cloisonné bead, or a love for bold colors and patterns, there are many ways to incorporate your own trademark into modern trends. Start with a source of creativity, collect and curate the right elements, incorporate current trends and refresh your space!

Feeling inspired and ready to get started? Shop the links we’ve provided to Monica’s favorite GeoBella fabrics, or visit to browse all of our fabric options for upholstery.

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