Text by Bethany Adams
Despite a lifelong love of embroidery, it took artist Stephanie Housley some time to realize she just might have a calling in textiles. A gap year spent making stained-glass windows led to a winter session studying glassblowing at the Rhode Island School of Design, but Stephanie quickly realized the limits of the medium. “Once I found textiles, it was just an absolutely perfect fit,” she says.
The dominoes continued to fall until, in 2007, she founded Coral & Tusk and began small-scale production. Four years later, she left her job as a textile designer in New York to create whimsy-filled quilts, pillows, and linens that infuse homes around the country with a sense of wonder.
After Stephanie completes an illustration and the creative team finalizes the design, she sends the digital file to her longtime friend and colleague, Yukti Gupta, who oversees production in India. “We do two collections a year,” she says, noting that the team follows what “feels exciting” before evaluating which products best fit the inspiration.
These days, much of that inspiration comes from Stephanie’s home in Wyoming, where she and her husband moved in 2016. Having evolved from the more linear patterns she started with, the woodland characters she now illustrates fulfill a more narrative purpose. “So, whether it’s about what they’re wearing or what they’re doing or what environment they’re in, there’s more of a context or a story that’s being told,” Stephanie says.
And while the patterns are certainly charming from first glance, Stephanie likes to infuse her designs with a spirit of discovery. “It’s a little detail that might not be obvious at first blush . . . or something that has a story that’s going to be revealed the closer you study it,” she says. Much like a young design student discovering her calling, taking a closer look at these distinctive designs just might reveal a little extra magic.