Kaffe Fassett is the undisputed genius of color. From his partnership with Bill Gibb, in which multi-colored, complex knitwear designs became his trademark, to becoming the first living textile artist to have a one-man show at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Kaffe has reigned supreme in textiles, patchwork, needle arts and more for over 50 years.
As he reaches a milestone birthday in December, Kaffe is not slowing down. After a two-year hiatus due to COVID, Kaffe and his partner, Brandon Mably, scheduled a trip to the U.S. in the fall, stopping at six quilt shops along the East Coast and Texas. Through Kaffe’s color-rich lectures and design-driven workshops, he and Brandon encourage quilters to embrace the brilliance of glorious colors and the beauty of bold designs in their craft and in their lives.
At the end of the tour, they arranged to land in Houston, Texas, for 10 days to greet retailers, quilters and sewing machine aficionados from around the world at the International Quilt Market and Festival. Did we mention Kaffe launched two colorfully branded Bernina sewing machines and notions over the summer?
At 85 — yes, Kaffe is turning 85 — he lives his life by a simple credo. The influences of his mother and a mélange of eclectic creative personalities (writers, artists and intellects who graced his childhood amongst the sweeping views of Big Sur from his family’s restaurant, Nepenthe) energize him every day. This credo was a simple piece of advice: Follow what you love and always try to make it better than the last time. This advice gave him the courage to follow his passion into the decorative arts and led him to create a prolific life filled with color and design. And aren’t we the lucky ones?
The Work Studio
Obsessed by the power of color, I often call my house a color lab. My studio always has several projects going on at once, so my yarn collection and swatches are always around me. As design work is quite intense and I lose concentration at times, I usually have a jigsaw puzzle in progress on one side of the studio to give me a little light relief.
The hard thing for me is to leave my studio and go out to lecture, teach or break off to write something like this book. To sit at the end of my studio, surrounded by yarn or piles of fabric, and dream up a new design is what satisfies my soul.
The Big Studio at the front of the house is where I paint out the artwork for my patchwork prints.
Opposite the Big Studio is my Little Painting Studio. I do not do much easel painting these days, but when I do, the light in this room is not the northern light that is recommended for artists but rather a western light that I find full of life until about mid afternoon.
The Living Room
After seeing and admiring other rooms in the world that had oversized flowers for decoration, I painted large rose clusters on the beige living room wall, and then I did a rough wash of warm yellow paint behind the roses.
Our wish for you on your birthday: whatever you ask may you receive, whatever you seek
may you find, whatever you wish may it come true.
Jo Packham & Women Create