Martha's Vineyard Partners' Painterly Designs Grace Tabletops

Two Island painters share their love of color and coastal life in an emerging line of home wares. Their "Coastal Canton" design renders Edgartown Harbor, including the lighthouse, Chappy Ferry and Beach Club, in a style inspired by vintage pottery.

Nancy Vietor and Linda Carnegie of Carnegie Blair Designs display some of their creations in Edgartown. (Louisa Hufstader photo)
Nancy Vietor and Linda Carnegie of Carnegie Blair Designs display some of their creations in Edgartown. (Louisa Hufstader photo)
Painter Linda Carnegie and interior designer Nancy (Blair) Vietor, who also paints, had worked together for years on high-end Martha's Vineyard interiors before they started their Carnegie Blair Designs partnership in 2012.

The duo's wares include cork-backed placemats, Caspari-printed napkins and elegant notecards featuring designs that range from lush botanicals to colorful sealife and beyond: Carnegie Blair's most distinctive design, "Coastal Canton," renders Edgartown Harbor scenes including the lighthouse, Chappy Ferry and beach club cabanas in a style inspired by vintage blue-and-white porcelain.

Vietor, an Edgartown homeowner whose many Island relatives include Patch editor Louisa Hufstader, and Carnegie, a longtime resident who has painted murals on and off Island and is soon to begin work on one at the new West Tisbury Free Public Library, made some time recently for a Business Monday interview:

Patch: Nancy, you've called Linda your "go-to" decorative painter for interior design work. How did this business relationship evolve into Carnegie Blair Designs?
Nancy Vietor: We'd say to each other all the time, "We should not just do this one job and then it's over; we should actually have a business where we have product that sells."

Patch: So how did you get started?
Nancy: We began to think of the sort of things that we like. We started with the botanicals.

Patch: What got you into making the crab and lobster placemats?
Linda Carnegie: I had taken a picture of the blue lobster up in Menemsha. I did this little sample (for a customer who wanted a floorcloth) and Nancy and I said, this would make a great placemat. 

Patch: What's your design approach?
Nancy: Our story really is that we're painters. We're designers, but we're painters. We're colorists, really. We've had a lot of fun with this. Everything Linda's painted is her take on things.

Patch: How do you divide the work?
Nancy: Linda certainly brings the talent, the painting.
Linda: Nancy's the art director and business manager — but we cross over. We work it out together.

Patch: Where are the products manufactured?
Nancy: We want to stay fair traded: We have not gone to China. The placemats are made in New Zealand; the napkins are from Germany; we have a studio in Florida that produces our floorcloths.

Patch: Why can't I find your goods in more Island stores?
Nancy: We are very territorial in defending our retailers. Tracker (in Edgartown) bought the whole line, so even though they're a little out of the way, we didn't feel we could also put it in (a store on Main Street).

Patch: You're in shops from here to Palm Beach, but after Tracker what are the two nearest places to buy your designs?
Nancy: The Brickyard in Vineyard Haven. Bean & Cod in Falmouth. 

Patch: Why did you change from square notecards in 2012 to rectangular ones in 2013?
Nancy: One of the things we think is very important is we really try very hard to work with our retailers. We listen to them. 
Linda: The square cards didn't fit in their racks.
Nancy: And nobody was going to go to the post office and pay 20 cents extra to mail the square cards.

Patch: How's business been?
Linda: We have to reorder on crabs.
Nancy: I'd say it's excellent.

See more from the partners at carnegieblairdesigns.com.
gailavakian20 January 14, 2014 at 07:29 AM
Great products, nice to see a new design too. Good luck!!


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