Wang works with versatility in mind, creating
patterns she says range from “serene” to “crazy.” By using Crypton, Nano-Tex™ and GreenShield performance fabrics and applying category-specific aesthetics, her collections can fit in everywhere, from evergreen homes to soothing healthcare spaces and bold guest rooms.
But the path was not always easy. For Wang, understanding her customers also meant bridging the gap between Eastern and Western cultural aesthetics. “Everything about me, compared to America, the way we did things, was different,” she says of her earliest attempts at designing commercial fabrics. “People said that I was eccentric.”
Over the years, she immersed herself in Western design and trained her eye to understand her customers’ perspectives on shape and color—a style she describes as “somber.”
“My color sense was originally more European. Then I slowly learned the American way of looking at color,” she says. “Now I am starting to re-adopt the European way. I can do it with a little more control.”
To stay in tune with Western trends, Wang looks at movements happening everywhere, from fashion to the automobile industry. She also spends a lot of her time with two things you might expect an artist to avoid like the plague: Excel sheets and sales reports.
“I use hard facts to focus and to actually understand what our customers are looking for. It’s not enough to just talk to one or two clients,” she says.
Through methodical, detailed analysis, Wang has come to understand not only what is unique about her customers, but also what is unique about Brentano.
“There’s a Brentano Red, a Brentano Yellow, Brentano Blue. It might not sell in someone else’s line, but it sells for us.”
Coincidentally, Wang’s process of aligning herself with Western culture sounds a lot like Eastern philosophy, focused on acceptance, harmony and balance. “The interesting thing is that as I slowly tried to adopt what the public wants, I started to get acclimated with it. Then it becomes what I want also. Otherwise life would be too painful. So I start to learn how the Western eye sees things. That became mine and now I have a good harmony. For 20 years, that was my homework.”
With the assignment complete, Wang says she is finally ready to design.
The watershed has been marked by a new collection, Gallery, which pays homage to the art that has inspired Wang throughout her life. It includes 14 patterns and textures, each a unique reinterpretation of a notable artwork. Among the most recognizable are Arles, a textural chenille upholstery inspired by Van Gogh’s work while living in the city of Arles, France; and Acanthi, a botanical pattern inspired by Matisse’s distinctive “cut-out” style.
In addition to Gallery, Wang stays connected with her fine art roots through a signature collection of portfolio work, to which she adds one new design each year. Among them is Lushan, a toile resembling traditional Chinese watercolor painting, and Homecoming, a large-scale repeat of a poem translated into Chinese calligraphy. Each piece has a unique story to tell about Wang’s history. Combined, they form a conceptual retrospective of an artist’s life-long journey to find balance in her art.