Dec 14

Reviving Design in Fall River: A 1on1 with RISD President Rosanne Somerson


On a recent visit to neighboring Providence, we had a chance to sit down with Rosanne Somerson, interim President at the Rhode Island School of Design. A dynamic professor, RISD alumna, and talented studio furniture designer and maker, Somerson became provost of RISD in 2011 and has since been focused on revitalizing and leading RISD’s academic mission. She also operates her own design studio, Somerson Studio, right here in Fall River, in a cooperative space she helped found, Smokestack Studios. We asked her about the value of craftsmanship, the potential of US manufacturing, and how RISD and Merida can continue to create positive change in the region and the design community.

What do you see as the future of design and manufacturing in the US?

“For manufacturing to grow and survive, it needs strong design at the forefront, because design is always anticipating and even creating the future. When companies can join design and manufacturing—which I think we do in the US better than in other countries—they have the potential to elevate the design-manufacture model.

The Fall River and Providence area is rich with both manufacturing and design knowledge. The language between those different professions could be something that could really differentiate the region [in craftsmanship and product development].”

What do you see as the potential for Fall River and Providence as centers of design and manufacturing?

“The factories don’t have to be built, the skills don’t have to be learned, they’re already here. Fall River—and any area like it—has great potential for new economic development. Companies can build a sense of longevity and quality, and connect to the region in a way that’s very powerful.

This is an area of textile regional history; it was the silicon valley of the industrial revolution in its day. It was where the innovative textile design was happening, where the innovative suppliers and fabricators were. Within the Providence region alone there were 2,000 small-scale industries at one point, and our students at RISD continue to benefit from this network of fabricators. Now a younger generation is interested in revitalizing that… and both RISD and Smokestack are a part of that effort.”

How does RISD prepare students to meet these challenges?

“What we teach at RISD results in individuals who come up with really new models of products and systems and services. CEOs are recognizing that creativity is the number one competency that they want to see in their new workforce. Our form of art and design education really encourages people to think differently and to have great perceptual and analytical skills that can be very useful in any career path.”

Tell us about the vision behind opening Smokestack Studios in Fall River.

“At Smokestack we created seven affordable rental spaces for young artists and designers to use, with all of the equipment they need. We’ve had some open houses for the community and have participated in Fall River Open Studio tours. It shows how a region’s startups can give a new kind of energy and fuel to an economy that needs to reinvent itself.

Because of the network that’s developing among Smokestack and other local studios there is a kind of a rebirth of some of the local manufacturing facilities in a way that really supports innovative product design and I think its only going to grow.”


At Merida, we place a lot of value on local craftsmanship, which is why we choose to manufacture in Fall River.  How can companies like ours contribute to the revitalization of craftsmanship in the USA?

“Merida is clearly concerned with high quality beautiful design, good materials, ethical working conditions. You get the fact that design is at the heart of what you do as a design company but you are also committed to local manufacture. When you bring all of those things together it develops a kind of commitment to a clear vision. It takes a few companies with clear ethics around those issues to really transform the way that design manufacturing can be identified with certain parts of the country, like in Fall River and Providence.

That idea of design manufacture is a really rare thing in business and it’s an important new model for local industries in developing regions. It allows businesses to become part of the community. By integrating yourself further with the community and history of craftsmanship of Fall River, you help create a better result both for Merida and for the region.”

We were thrilled to have the opportunity to donate rugs to the RISD President’s House.  The first floor, which is used to bring members of the RISD community together, is being decorated with furniture, textiles, accessories and artwork, all created by RISD alumni. Our textile designer, Martin Emlein, will be listed as part of the distinguished group of alumni.


A Troy wool rug from the Tailormade collection custom-colored with Undyed Noir and Thin Felted Marigold.

A Harris wool rug in Dark Gray. From the Tailormade collection.

A stain resistant Urbana sisal rug for the entryway. In Frost colorway.

A Flint wool rug custom colored with Undyed Noir and Thin Felted Persimmon yarns.

Explore Tailormade >

Explore Urbana >

Visit RISD >

Nov 14

Three designers inspire with Crosspoint

Last winter we asked a few designers how they would use patterns from our Tailormade Collection in their work. Ever inspired by the process of collaborating with designers, we decided to do it again, this time with the new Crosspoint Collection. Hillary Thomas, Beth Webb, and Gary McBournie — three designers who’s work we love — agreed to work their magic using styles of their choice. The results range from neutral and calm to colorful and energetic.

Hillary Thomas
San Francisco, CA –

Hillary Thomas created an airy bedroom with feminine touches and luxurious textures. With a velvet chair, silk pillows, and a dusky pink color scheme, the room is as warm and welcoming as it is stylish.

Hillary Thomas Designs embodies a “Vintage Chic” style — layered, worldly, sophisticated, with a juxtaposition of the old with the new.

View Hillary’s room design>





Beth Webb Interiors
Atlanta, GA –

Beth Webb combined traditional and rustic to create a living room space fit for a first home or an Aspen ski lodge. The room pares timeless design with comfort and class.

Beth Webb Interiors believes that proper scale and timelessness are essential attributes of every design, in addition to being respectful of a client’s personality and desires.

View Beth’s room design>





Gary McBournie
Boston, MA –

With a color pop of many hues, Gary McBournie created a lively living space for an energetic urban couple. From the beautiful, complex print to the simple geometry of the Diamant wool rug, Gary’s inspiration board brings visual warmth and interest.

Gary, with input from his clients, strives to create warm, inviting spaces and homes. With a lifelong love of travel, color, art, and design, Gary brings incredible passion and expertise to his work.

View Gary’s room design>


Nov 14

Hillary Thomas inspires with dusky pink chic

Hillary Thomas Design BoardHillary Thomas creates a stylish bedroom with luxurious texture and feminine flair, using a Rift rug in Foxglove from the Crosspoint Collection.

Merida: Explain why you chose this particular Crosspoint pattern and color combination.

Hillary Thomas: I’m a sucker for anything pink and striped so this particular rug immediately jumped out at me. I love the slight chevron pattern to it – so fun!

M: Who do you see living in this space?

HT: A chic & successful woman, early 30′s…perhaps a stylist living in Los Angeles. A gal who isn’t afraid to let her hair down and takes her cocktail shaken not stirred!

M: How does your design board reflect your design philosophy?

HT: I love playing with different textures and mixing styles for a fresh & modern approach. I love the combo of the wool rug with a velvet chair, a silk pillow, brass light fixtures and fur throw. Heavenly!

M: What are some other types of projects you could see Crosspoint being used for?

HT: It is such a versatile line!  You could use these designs anywhere from a beach front property to a cabin in Aspen. The colors and designs are so unique and give the perfect pop to any space.

Hillary is the inspiration and original founder of Hillary Thomas. Ten years ago, she “officially” took the plunge (but she’s been decorating her entire life!) and launched a traditional interior design business in Santa Monica, CA. The business has evolved from a successful interior design firm into a vibrant product and lifestyle company.

Hillary believes that good design isn’t something off-the-shelf or necessarily one particular style. Rather, it’s an eclectic mix of the high and the low, where inexpensive flea market finds and fine antiques can effortlessly coexist.

Originally from Locust Valley, Long Island, Hillary brings her passion for design and her open spirit to all her projects. Her goal is to bring out the inner-creative in even her most left-brained clients and friends. Rooted in her belief that life is multicultural, multilayered, and inspiring, Hillary loves nothing more than harmonizing different lifestyles, tastes, and beloved objects into a thoughtfully designed and highly individualized living space.

The Crosspoint Collection >

Hillary Thomas >

Nov 14

Beth Webb inspires with stylish rustic neutrals

Beth Webb Designs creates a calming, neutral space with a rustic feel, using a Diamant rug in Desert Taupe with a woven Rift border.

Merida: Explain why you chose this particular Crosspoint pattern and color combination.

Beth: It’s classic, effortlessly comfortable and totally timelessly traditional.  I loved the soft neutral colorways with this pared down rustic design.

M: Who do you see living in this space?

B: With Fall in the air, “Comfort is key.”  Maybe it’s a getaway at the little new residences in Aspen for a young couple from New York.  A heavily textured linen curtain wall anchors the space with rustic reclaimed wood surfaces.  Christian Liagre upholstery, always decadently comfortable and at the same time sculptural, ensures luxurious living at its very best. Along with a bespoke coffee table by Gregorius Pineo, the fabrics by C&C Milano and trim by Samuel and Sons, all juxtapose with a decadent chinchilla throw from Loro Piana.  Bring on the snow….

M: How your design board reflect your design philosophy?

B: Soft, serene, edited and comfortable with some decadently luxurious, sensual touches.

M: What are some other types of projects you could see Crosspoint being used for?

B: Crosspoint is a chameleon, I can see it going into a formal as well as a causal room setting.

Beth Webb has a penchant for great art, beautiful proportions, and comfortable, yet luxurious touches. Beth believes that proper scale and a sense of timelessness are the foundation of any successful interior–whether it’s traditional, eclectic, or contemporary. Her guiding philosophy on interior design lies in her core belief that any space created for a client should be respectful of their lifestyle and their passions. Hence, listening is of the utmost importance in order to craft a home that embodies a client’s true character and personality. Based in Atlanta, GA, Beth Webb’s projects include homes throughout the southeast, as well as residences in Los Angeles, Florida, Connecticut, Michigan, and Costa Rica.

The Crosspoint Collection >

Beth Webb Interiors >