Friday, June 25, 2010

McKenzie from Dena Fishbein

Dena Fishbein is a very talented lady! You have probably know her better as Dena Designs, the name of her studio.

Her designs can be found worldwide on stationery, home apparel and of course fabric. Her recent lines for Freespirit include Leanika, Snow Flower and Monaco.

Her newest line McKenzie has just been released for Freespirit Fabrics and you should be able to find it in fabric stores very soon. The line is a wonderful mix of florals and geometrics and has a fresh vintage feel to it.

You can find Mckenzie at the Fat Quarter Shop and Pink Chalk Fabrics.

I chatted to Dena to find out more about her and McKenzie.

You are extremely busy with a tv show, a newspaper column and your design work. Which do you enjoy most?

Well actually the television show ran for 2 years, for a total of 26 episodes and then I decided against continuing. It is now just re-runs. It was too intensive. For each episode I had to make the finished item and then each project in each step from start to finish. I am very particular about my projects, so finding the materials and doing the research was also very time consuming.

I still write a newspaper column for Scripps Howard which is distributed to about 420 newspapers.

But I focus mainly on product design. My favourite thing to do is designing and painting. I design all sorts of products from paper, fabric, bedding, melanine, kitchen and stuffed animals.

You say on your website that you enjoy scouring flea markets for inspiration. What has been your best find?

Oh I just love going to flea markets. Probably my best find was a painting. I had been looking for an old painting of palm trees in oils in a gold frame and I saw somebody pick it up. You should have seen my face. I hovered next to her until she put it down and then I just grabbed it and gave whatever money the man asked for to him. No haggling!

I go to one which is held once a month about half an hour away from where I live and wherever we are vacationing I try and find a flea market.

So, McKenzie is your newest line for Freespirit. Why is your line named McKenzie? What was your inspiration?

Simple answer! My husband was walking by when I was thinking what to name the line and he suggested McKenzie. He said it was a cute name and you know what, it is a cute name!

Freespirit give me no brief but they did say that at the moment people are buying bright happy colours. Fabrics with a neutral palette are just not selling. People want to surround themselves with fresh, happy colours.

When designing the line I thought about what I would like to go together. I like the combination of florals and geometrics. It has a modern fresh feel. So I start by sketching ideas out in the look I want.

I keep files of colours, flowers and pattern layouts and use those to work out what look I am after.

What was your design process for McKenzie?

I usually paint on computer paper. I do a very fast pencil sketch. In about 2 minutes. I look at it and write notes and imagine which colours it would look good in. I then list the colours on the side.

I then sketch the pattern onto watercolour paper and mix the colours. I paint one colourway and then develop the other colourways using the computer.

In this collection the colourways stayed the same and there are usually 1 or 2 prints that are dropped each collection.

Describe to us the colour palette you chose for McKenzie.

The colour stories are black / pink, aqua/green and lilac. I knew that lavender was selling really well and was a trend so I wanted to incorporate that into the line. I love the richness of black and how it makes things look rich and beautiful. And aqua is my favourite colour so a little aqua worked itself into the collection It gives it a modern / vintage feel.

What projects do you have in mind for McKenzie?

I think the line combines very well for all sorts of projects, not just quilting. We have just designed an apron, pillows, dog bedding and I think clothing would look good in the line.

The collection McKenzie will be used for other products as well. I usually design the fabric first as I am always working on fabric collections and then I use those in my other product lines.

What’s next for Dena Designs?

I am currently working on another fabric line but I am not sure what it is called yet. The line I am working on at the moment has a very watercolour feel.

Then there are 2 other lines which are already finished. Pea Garden and Cummary Garden. I am also going to be working on a Christmas line for 2011. I always have several projects on the go. I am working on some greeting cards too at the moment.

Look out for projects designed using Dena's line in our October Issue!


  1. Oh, I love the aqua colorway. How fun!

  2. Wow, I'm in love with the pink and black! Gorgeous..

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  4. My perfect weekend would be few phone calls, 75 degrees, good music, no cooking, and sewing in the back yard interspersed with a little gardening.

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