Weaving a New Legacy
Two former longtime Atlantans have taken the West Coast design scene by storm with their entrepreneurial spirit, exquisite eye and covetable textiles
In 2013, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles first reported on the launch of a beautiful new homegrown textile line by Clay McLaurin Studio. Fast forward nearly a decade to today, and the collection has undergone several seismic changes—most in just recent years—including a cross-country move and rebranding. The line’s influence and availability may be larger than ever, yet its initial core values remain tried and true.
Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles: What was the impetus for the name change from Clay McLaurin Studio to McLaurin
Todd Piercy: We purchased LA Mills in 2019. After a few months of living in Los Angeles, COVID-19 was a reality. Many businesses were forced to halt operation due to the pandemic, and we had to make the tough decision to furlough many employees to save the mill.
Clay McLaurin: The quiet that we found ourselves in gave us time to think about the future and what we wanted to gain from the change we were about to face. We both sat around the studio table and began to formulate our ideas. Eventually, we concluded we needed to rebrand the existing business, Clay McLaurin Studio, to McLaurin & Piercy to include both of our names with the added tagline, American Weavers. We work equally hard to make this dream succeed, and we have a mission to celebrate and bring American craftsmanship and manufacturing to the fore.
AH&L: How did you come about buying a mill and moving to L.A.?
CM: I was hired by the previous owner of LA Mills at another mill in the Northeast in 2004 after finishing my MFA in textile design at The Rhode Island School of Design. Soon after I accepted the design position, the previous owner purchased LA Mills. I stayed on as a senior designer at the mill in the Northeast. We kept in touch over the years and shortly after we began Clay McLaurin Studio, we worked with LA Mills to develop an indoor/outdoor collection. Todd was visiting Los Angeles with his previous job working with Michael Smith. After lots of dinners and conversations, the previous owners asked us if we would be interested in purchasing the mill as they wanted to retire. Of course, we said yes.
AH&L: You’ve long been known for beautiful and unique printed fabrics, and the new wovens are spectacular. How many new introductions did you release when you relaunched as McLaurin & Piercy, and how do you describe the new offerings?
TP: When we launched McLaurin & Piercy, we introduced 25 new patterns totaling 100 new SKUs. This was a two-year process of designing and weaving the collection. We hope the new offerings reflect the story of us, hardworking and American. The idea is to celebrate the spirit of American craftsmanship and manufacturing. We wanted the new fabrics to allude to this spirit through unique texture and material combinations. At the mill, we can twist boucles and spin unique novelty yarns. It was important for us to showcase these qualities as this is what makes our fabrics stand apart. Classic stripes and patterns, including a large-scale medallion and plaid, complement many of the textures.
AH&L: Will you continue to develop new printed fabrics or are wovens now the focus? Or both?
CM: Both. We are currently developing a collection that will launch in early spring 2023. This will comprise of several prints, an embroidery and of course more wovens.
AH&L: How do you go about editing and refining colorways?
CM: It is one of the toughest parts of the job. For one pattern we could easily start with 60 to 80 colorways and have to cull to three to six.
TP: At the genesis of the business, it was important to think in terms of bestsellers like neutrals, blues, etc. As the business has grown, we’ve added more interesting colors, including our new tawny and berry, as the foundation was already built.
AH&L: It’s amazing that you’re doing all of this from downtown Los Angeles—and most of the cottons, linens and wools are sourced in the U.S. How important is it to both of you to use American-made goods?
TP: Very important. A primary focus for rebranding was to celebrate American manufacturing and domestic suppliers. “How textiles are made matters” is central in our everyday conversations. By sourcing domestically, we’re not only supporting local suppliers, but reducing our carbon footprint.
AH&L: And although your textiles are American made, influences for designs come from around the world and your travels, right?
CM: Yes. Although we are focusing on American craftsmanship and production in the U.S., our inspiration comes from our personal quest of discovery and exploration. We are naturally curious about the world around us and are not afraid of a good adventure. We want our patterns to portray a sense of history and place whether that be a place we have visited or a historical document we picked up along the way. We hope our wovens speak to our American heritage and the innocence of youth.
AH&L: Can you talk a little about the art of craft and craftsmanship in your work?
TP: Simplicity, beauty, quality and tradition are words that describe craft to us. Weaving is a very traditional craft that has been around for centuries, and though we are weaving on 20th-century looms, the basic concept and technique is the same today. It’s important for us to keep these traditions alive by shining a spotlight on how things are made and what they are made from. We believe in the art of making; from concept to completion, what we do is truly an art and not a computer doing all the work. Our team has years of training; therefore we weave with thought and integrity.
AH&L: Do you still maintain ties to Georgia and Atlanta?
TP: We visit often to see family and friends as well as to see our wonderful showroom where we are represented, Ainsworth-Noah.
AH&L: What’s next? Anything new this fall?
CM: We have a wallpaper collection launching in September. This will comprise of seven new patterns and 19 total SKUs. Three will be printed on grasscloth, three printed on paper and one wallcovering woven and paperbacked at LA Mills.
A sampling of the new collection and some of the colorways, left to right Melati in Ochre, Emma in Indigo, Lawrence in Sand, Bradford in Indigo, Mayan in Berry, Casco in Brick, Stonington in Indigo, Bartholomew in Indigo; available through Ainsworth-Noah