Alluminare Design Challenge — Top Ten & Voting with Christopher Lowell!

You have chosen Alluminare’s new World Class Designer!
Read the announcement here.

And don’t miss our Lead Design Judge, Christopher Lowell’s, excellent commentary, his insightful tips for choosing patterns for home decor, and view the beautiful designs created by our finalists below.

Christopher LowellHello everybody. I’m so pleased to have been asked by to be the lead designer for this terrific competition. I hope it can create an ongoing forum to showcase some of the world’s most talented, if often unsung, artists.

As you know, I’ve been teaching home design on TV for many years even before there was an HGTV as we know it today. Much of my time has been spent educating and designing color, fabric and patterns of my own, often interfacing with talented arties like those represented in this competition. Pattern and color is so integral to making one’s home truly individual. It can enhance mood while telling our stories accurately to whomever enters our homes.

With that in mind, I have had wonderful help by my gifted designer co-judges, Alluminare’s Founder, Friday Shamblen and Independent Graphic Artist and Allluminare World Class Designer, Libby Unwin. They went through 475 submissions from all over the world and by the time I received the final thirty (like the final weeks of American Idol), every submission was better than the next—all stars and the cream of the crop! This of course made the whittling down of the final ten next to impossible because all are award winners! Still, ten it was, like it or not!

So I’ve judged the final thirty with the five questions I ask myself when I judge all the fabrics I design or work with:

  1. Are they well thought out and fully resolved? Meaning, do they have scale, balance and the ability to work in both tiny to gigantic sizes (Alluminare customers are able to change the scale of the pattern) and in any quantity repeated over and over again?
  2. Are they non-gender specific? Meaning once in an environment will they be luxurious enough for “her” and yet still tailored enough for “him”?
  3. Are they easily integrated by the novice? Meaning, any experienced designer can make any pattern work but in the hands of your average consumer, will the results still be empowering?
  4. Are they versatile? Meaning, by simply changing the colors do they take on a variety of impressions to fit a wide range of interiors and accessory applications? Also, will choosing different colors be simple?

    Note: As you judge, I urge you, as I did, to look beyond the artists’ color choices and try to imagine these designs in your own color palette; especially since you actually will be able to change the winning pattern’s colors to your own individual taste. 

  5. Are they timeless? Meaning, will they be as classic a decade from now as they seem today?

So there you go. Now, if my job was hard, I certainly don’t envy you! Think carefully, knowing that one of these could be making a statement in your own home one day very soon. How exciting is that?

Good luck. You can do it!

Christopher Lowell

As an Emmy Award-winning host, best selling author, and highly respected interior designer, Christopher Lowell’s mix of practical advice and infectious enthusiasm has made him one of America’s most recognized and trusted authorities in home improvement. Read more about Christopher here.


And now—out of 475 entries—here are the TOP TEN Designs, including Christopher’s insightful commentary about each pattern and how it could best be used in home decor, as well as an image of the pattern applied to Alluminare’s top-selling pendant light fixture.

(1) # 287 (paisley)
Nicky Martin. London, England
I’m always a great fan of nature-inspired motifs. This design has a lyrical flow that takes a natural element (the leaf) and interprets it both traditionally and with modern embellishments. I like that simply by changing any of the two colors one could easily integrate this as a subtle, all-over texture-driven pattern by minimizing the contrast. Pump up the color and contrast and this can act as a great modern accent.

(2) # 157 (cherry blossom)
Maria Cheek. Roswell, GA USA
Birds are classic and easily recognizable, making them ideal for this modern silhouette. While this print repeats well, when framed and enlarged it stands alone as an art piece and is great for wallpaper, framed hangings, pillows, lamps and decorative objects. As the artist suggests, the bird could be called out as a different color. The over print of the tree against the bird fully integrates it back into the overall branch pattern so it won’t dominate in the repeat. The flow of the pattern and the use of negative space seem very in balance.

(3) # 393 (retro ovals)
Billy Hobbs. Rogers, AK, USA
Depending on color choice, this could easily go from organic to pop art. Its range is calm and sensual or upbeat and highly graphic depending on chosen contrasts. I like its non-gender specific attitude. Its flow and movement give it a contained animation. Its soft, pod-in-water-like suggestion could integrate well into both global-organic modern, traditional and pop or young and hip spaces.

(4) # 79 (vintage leaves)
Jahnvi Thaker. Ahmedabad, Gujrat, India
Image Removed by Administrator
While a modern Indian take on tradition, it’s got architecture and nature-inspired elements combined with a graphic delicacy. The waterfall or rain stripe effect offers a calm yet dynamic attitude that is gender friendly. Its contrast could be minimized for an almost damask effect and the scale could be enlarged and separated into a clasp and chain effect. This offers a global impression that could be as comfortable in a Victorian mansion as in a Zen retreat.

(5) # 170 (hexagons)
Edmond Manukyan. Prague, Czech Republic
This deceptively simple pattern has a wide use of application that spans several decades in inspiration—past and future. It has contained architectural structure like a traditional molding-trimmed coffered ceiling of the 16th century. It can also be viewed in an organic way as a horizontal stack impression of geometrics arranged into hives or pods. This shape is also seen repeatedly in aerospace motifs thus offering a futuristic sensibility. Its color options are limitless and the contained pattern can work on any scale and in almost any quantity. It’s a back-to-the-future classic.

(6) # 56 (Japanese waves/scales)
Dasha Wagner. Dubuque, IA USA
I think this is another modern classic. The two color options offer a wide range of visual application. In cobalt blue, it’s Ancient Japanese art waves or a nod to Americana blue willow; in soft browns it’s Art Deco; in green majolica it’s Koi scales; in tan it’s shore inspired shells; in deep plum it’s NYC nightlife (the Chrysler building meets the Cotton Club). It can be used in any direction. As a petite print it could register as an over-all texture (like a dress sequence) depending on color application. It could read as an architectural-based element done in a very large scale.

(7) # 197 (vertical stripe florals)
Edmond Manukyan. Prague, Czech Republic
Deco, Nouveau, Indian, Polynesian, Russian—this theatrical stripe has a universally global appeal that’s new and yet somehow familiar. Arresting yet comforting. Its combination of contained structure and lacy plaque-like elements give it a wide use of interior applications both horizontally and vertically. Like jewelry bracelets or carved royal appliqués they can morph with quick color changes and be taken in any direction. The companion tone-on-tone silhouette offers a quiet dignity and stature that makes it easily integrated into a variety of interiors and the objects that enhance them.

(8) # 145 (floral wave)
Roshni Abraham. Bangalore, India
The colorway shown looks deceptively safe, but pump up the color volume and it takes on a whole new attitude. Use it horizontally as a floral boarder or vertically as a stripe. It’s a great canvas that bridges Arts & Crafts Americana with country and has French, Tuscan Italian or royal European dynamics just by changing color combinations. Visualize this in mustard gold, plum, rust and deep teal, white, crème and taupe, or deep chocolate, chartreuse and pale blue—you get the drift. Of all the “country” patterns submitted, this one (sans topstitching or pinwheels) has the greatest interpretation range without being trite.

(9) # 274 (French country paisley)
Diksha. Roswell, GA, USA
Used as a petite all-over textural print or as a giant fretwork-style Indian screen, this is a great and well thought out template pattern that has many applications. Its connected symmetry is in total balance and defies scale or direction. Two colors offer quick and easy experimentation for users and will be welcome in any environment: modern-global to traditional-eclectic to monochromatic neo-classic.

(10) # 436 (flowing diamond cut-outs)
Renata Rubim. Porto Alegre RS, Brazil
This pattern is retro or futuristic, organic or playful. It’s also serious layered geometry that can also be whimsical like “Jumping Jack” pop art. It defies age, gender, directional application and eras. As a petite monothematic, it’s almost an organic crosshatch texture. Super enlarge it and it has a biodome-like structural architecture. In acid colors, it’s a computer motherboard but change the colors again to earth tones or Asian spice colors and it’s a global market basketweave. It can work in rooms where hand-painted plaids live in the country or done in metallic tones as a room divider in a SoHo loft.

***Update: Voting has concluded for this Challenge. The votes are being tallied, and the announcement being written. We will announce Alluminare’s new World Class Designer on Monday, June 21 (in the evening California time).***

In your opinion, what would make the best pattern for Alluminare’s Customizable Home Decor Products (light fixtures, throw pillows, wallpaper, wall art, fabrics,
and more)?

  • Just one vote is allowed per person. (We know you’ll all play fair, but if we find evidence of someone voting multiple times, we will delete those votes.)
  • The voting will end in one week at 11:59 p.m. Pacific (California) Time on Sunday, June 20.
  • We’ll announce the winner of the Alluminare Design Challenge with a post on Monday, June 21!!

Your top vote-getter will win the Challenge and the Prize:

  • A $300 gift code to shop at (good for fabric and wallpaper shipped worldwide, and manufactured goods like light fixtures and throw pillows shipped to the U.S. and Canada.)
  • Excellent recognition and fame.
  • The winning artist joins the ranks of Alluminare’s World Class Designers, and the design (and possibly future designs by the artist) will be marketed on Alluminare’s Web site.
  • The winner’s bio and photo will appear on Alluminare’s Web site.
  • The winner will earn royalties (paid quarterly) on the sale of products with his or her designs (5% on manufactured items like pillows and light fixtures and 10% on fabrics and wallpaper)

We can’t wait to see what design you choose to win’s Alluminare Design Challenge, and who will become Alluminare’s next World
Class Designer

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1. From Nicky Martin in London, England:

Nicky Martin's entry

I’ve used henna design as the inspiration for this pattern. The design is intricate, so I have decided to keep it simple using one colour.

2. From Maria Cheek in Roswell, GA USA:

Maria Cheek's entry

A bird among the flowers. This pattern is great as a 2/c silhouette, but the bird can also be selected to be a stand out color – if you’re into that sort of thing. Blow it up for a whimsical wallpaper.

3. From Billy Hobbs in Rogers, Arkansas, USA:

Billy Hobbs's entry

Vintage Ovals

4. From Jahnvi Thaker in Ahmedabad,Gujrat,India:

Jahnvi Thaker's entry

Modern art form of petals with patterns repeated in harmony

5. From Edmond MAnukyan in PRague Czech Republic:

Edmond MAnukyan's entry

elegantní a geometrické tvary, dynamické střídaní vzorků, luxusní!

6. From Dasha Wagner in Dubuque, IA (USA):

Dasha Wagner's entry

Japanese Waves

The design of this pattern has been inspired by Japanese ancient textile art.

7. From Edmond MAnukyan in PRague Czech Republic:

Edmond MAnukyan's entry

Luxury, floral pattern, for Royal bed

8. From ROSHNI ABRAHAM in Bangalore, India:



9. From Diksha in Roswell, GA, US:

Diksha's entry

Pink asnd Black Floral Cluster

10. From Renata Rubim in Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil:

Renata Rubim's entry

GRID: My intention was to create an illusion of transparency and layers. It can be made many colorways and it was hard to choose the final one to submit!

14 Comments for “Alluminare Design Challenge — Top Ten & Voting with Christopher Lowell!”

[…] World Class Designer Search June 14, 2010 Update: The TOP TEN Designs have been chosen! See the patterns, read our expert judges’ commentary and vote for your favorite here. […]

I am so impressed by the Top Ten designs! Thanks to Christopher for his guidance, and happy voting all.

Design Junkies and artists, tell all your friends. And remember, only ONE vote per person.


This is a great contest! If you’re ever in need to a photographer for your shows, PLEASE contact me!

Hi Victor!

Thanks so much! We have had a blast putting this together, and have been blown away with the response and the quality of the artwork.

I assume your “show” comment is for Christopher. In case he doesn’t notice it, here is his Web site with contact info.

Don’t be a stranger,

I really like the bird and branch design, but I find the scale of the branch overprint on the bird distracting. Would just a few blossoms have worked to “mute” the bird silhouette?

Good thinking Chris. I wonder what the artist would have to say about your idea….

Thanks for voting and your eye for design,

I can see what Chris J is saying. And that is easily editable to slightly bring up the scale of the bird’s “inner branch”, tho the inset must be small so you don’t lose too much of the outer edge of the bird. The poor thing will look like a cat just took a chunk out of him! 😉 But fewer flowers is a good compromise.

Hi Maria,

Aren’t you sweet to reply! Your design is just beautiful — It is airy and fresh (and I can see that light fixture or wall art working in many settings). And Chris and you have great ideas for fine-tuning it.

I wonder in general, when is a design ever “done” in the eyes of an artist?? Must be tricky to know.

(You are cracking me up about the cat & the bird.)

Thanks for your comments and your wonderful work!

Wow thanks for replying Maria! I thought that too, that maybe the larger flower would take too much away. Not sure which is the better compromise.

Either way, your design got my vote!

I am certainly more of a “finisher”, ideas are harder for me to come by, so I admire a great idea.

Rarely do I feel a piece is “done”. Usually… “good enough”!

Thanks again Maria, and great work!

I voted! 🙂 Did want to say that Mr. Lowell’s five points to look for were right on. I was nodding along to all of them — great things to keep in mind while designing a pattern or buying one.

Just a few more hours to vote, folks! Just one vote per person, so tell your friends to vote tonight. I wonder; which design will win?

Thanks everyone, for the great designs and your votes. I’ll announce the winner (and Alluminare’s next World Class Designer) Monday evening (California time). Night all!!

[…] Check out all Top Ten patterns here, and read Christopher Lowell’s commentary on each, and his insightful tips for choosing patterns for home decor in general. […]

[…] Hobbs of Rogers, Arkansas! Billy won the Alluminare Design Challenge on Home Workshop! Congratulations, […]

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