Caroline Z. Hurley is an artist who is deeply inspired by place, so it makes sense that she chose to set up shop in Greenpoint, where she now mingles the energy of the neighborhood with impressions of far flung locations.
A visit to her new shop/studio, tucked into a small storefront at 155 Freeman Street, reveals a bright and calming space that neatly displays contemporary wares and Hurley’s chic textiles. Drenched in white, the shop feels like a calm haven. Not only does the zen-like space showcase Hurley’s beautiful textiles, but also her skillful, artistic eye for design.
When in a new city, Hurley tends to set herself up somewhere where she can simply observe, then puts her impressions down on paper. Once she is back in her studio, she practices her particular form of alchemy, turning the free-spirited paintings and drawings, works inspired by her travels, into designs for textiles.
Below, you’ll find Hurley’s thoughts about her inspiration, her work, and Greenpoint.
GP: What do you most like about working with textiles?
Caroline: I love making spaces cozy [and] textiles is a natural way for me to do that. I love that most things I make are flat and square, [which] allows me to focus on the texture and the pattern more than the shape of the thing.
GP: What is your process for turning the inspiration you find in other places into textile design?
Caroline: I generally plant myself somewhere and just feel the city, I draw and paint there but it usually comes together when I am back in my studio where I have all my paints and materials and libraries to really see the thing come to life. Also it takes a couple rounds of samples to get it right. Designing is a process and painting is more free spirited and quick, but its a good jumping off point for me to design each collection.
GP: Each of your collections is inspired by a city. Does being based in Greenpoint, for your store, influence your work in any way?
Caroline: I like the feeling of Greenpoint. It feels cozy and more like a small town. I don’t know if that directly relates to my work but it helps me to work better, to have a more quiet space where the noise dies down in my head a little bit.
GP: How do you feel your work fits into or is inspired by the arts scene in Greenpoint and Brooklyn?
Caroline: I am so inspired by the art scene in Brooklyn. There are so many talented and thoughtful artists working around me and I love to be around that energy. I am a painter first, so it’s helpful for me to have a community of other painters and makers close by.
GP: How has Greenpoint figured into your life in Brooklyn?
Caroline: Greenpoint is actually quite far from where I live, but I really enjoy my commute. I live in Manhattan and it takes me about 45 minutes to get to the shop. There is something about the travel time that helps me settle in to the day. I read and meditate and when I arrive in Greenpoint and walk out from the G train I feel a sense of relief. It’s quieter and smaller than Manhattan and it feels so manageable.
GP: What are some of your favorite spots in the neighborhood?
Caroline: I love Achilles Heel – that food is unreal. And Bakeri on my block is where I go most days for snacks and Sweetleaf for a cappuccino every day. And you know what I love is the new health food store on Manhattan – they make the best smoothies and sandwiches. I love Glasserie for food and Ashbox is also a favorite. There are so many spots!
Caroline Z. Hurley’s shop is located at 155 Freeman Street, open Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-6pm. For more information, visit Carolinezhurley.com