Candice Kaye’s prints have gone global, but it all starts in her tiny Richmond Hill studio
Candice Kaye started small. At the tail end of her studies at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, where she studied textile design, Kaye got her first client: Maman, a Soho cafe and bakery. Commissioned for a series of custom prints for the cafe’s walls, mugs and packaging, Kaye came to appreciate the value that bespoke design could confer on restaurants. Then she noticed the gap in the market for a reasonably priced option, finding the niche she’d become known for.
Since then, Maman has blown up and Kaye has designed custom textiles for hospitality brands all over the world, including in Miami, Australia and right here in Toronto, where her work adorns the walls of Planta, Byblos North and Baddies, amongst other spots. She’s also branched out into upholstery and linen, and collaborated on a capsule collection with CB2. And while the pandemic saw the hospitality industry slow down, Kaye released two new collections – the Open Air collection and a series of gold floral prints inspired by tropical locales – upgraded her online shop and started shooting and developing her own content for good measure. It all starts here in her studio – keep reading to take a look.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Designlines: How many people do you work with, and what are their roles?
Candice Kaye: I am currently a one-woman show. My support team includes my incredible vendors located in New York, Montreal and India. Our rugs are created with the wonderful fabric mill Holland and Sherry – their product is the best I’ve seen in the industry.
Designlines: What part of town is your workplace located in, and how does it serve what you do?
Candice Kaye: My studio is in Richmond Hill. Pre-Covid, I traveled a lot for work and would set up my studio wherever I was staying. I like this feeling of being able to pick up and set up wherever there’s Wi-Fi. When I needed to paint I would hop into the local art shops and pick up a paint brush and whatever paints I need for the project. I now have a collection of paint brushes from different cities and countries. It’s a nice reminder of the experiences I’ve had.
Designlines: What kind of building or space is your workplace located in?
Candice Kaye: My studio is currently tiny, but cozy works for me. But I need natural light, so I’m looking forward to moving into a bigger studio with large windows and an open layout. It’s been a dream of mine to create a studio that is a work/retail experience, and I would love to have the front half retail where clients and customers can come in and touch and feel the paper, fabrics and rugs.
Designlines: What are some of your favourite aspects of your workspace?
Candice Kaye: My books. I don’t know where I would be without books. Whenever I have a new project, I like to lay out every single book I own that could somehow relate to the inspiration behind the print and just get lost in them.
Designlines: How did your relationship with your studio change during the pandemic, or how did it serve you differently?
Candice Kaye: My studio is my slice of heaven, and it became my place of refuge during the lockdowns. Whenever I closed my studio door and put on some music, I would become blissfully unaware of the realities of whatever was happening outside.
Designlines: Has the pandemic enabled your business to take advantage of any opportunities it otherwise would not have had?
Candice Kaye: With my work primarily within the hospitality industry, things have obviously slowed down, and for the first time in five years I have had time to myself. I took advantage of it and had fun. We launched new embroidered linen and collaborated with artist Briony Douglas on the launch. From an idea that came to me while shipping a package, I mixed my long love affair with antique Persian and Turkish rugs with the CKD flower. We launched two collections, the second of which came out in February. I also took the time to add a really fun calculator to my website for easy checkout when purchasing wallpaper online, and I shot my own content and made videos – it felt nice to take out the camera again and shoot.
Designlines: What materials and software applications are mainly used at your workspace?
Candice Kaye: Everything we do is hand painted with watercolour and gouache paint before we scan the pieces into the computer for layout, scale and repeat. We mainly use Photoshop and Illustrator to create our prints.
Designlines: What are some of the greatest works to come out of this space? What’s on the boards now?
Candice Kaye: All of my projects to date have come out of this space, and so many memories live within these walls. I may never get rid of this studio; it’s the space where it all began.
My boards are full with new inspiration, dreams and goals already in motion for this year. A cute boutique hotel is in the works, and we’re looking at everything from the wallpaper to the bedsheets. It’s going to be a fun one!