A Day in the Life of Nancy Mims of Mod Green Pod

Textile designer Nancy Mims, who works out of her backyard studio in Austin, Texas, is the founder of healthy home fabric and wallpaper company  Mod Green Pod. Hers was one of the first to create textiles and wall coverings that merged innovative, colorful designs with organic cotton and chemical-free production. Among them is the Butterfly Jubilee pattern you see above, which you may recognize. For this week’s Designer Dailies, Mims takes us through her color-drenched world via a day’s worth of documentary and absolutely gorgeous photographs, which she’s been dedicated to snapping every day.

After the frantic but sweet family morning rituals, my husband and I walk our kids to school. Today, I walked with our son and along the way, he picked a handful of dandelion seed heads, made wishes, and blew the delicate seeds into the warm, early spring air. He and I wondered if today’s flowers had grown from seeds he had blown on his way to school one day a year ago.

Once the kids are at school, I take a long, meandering walk around my central Austin neighborhood. I plug in my headphones (today’s choice of music: the album In Love with Oblivion by Crystal Stilts) and walk for at least an hour, never in the same direction. I pause to take photos, using my iPhone, of things that astonish me along the way. I haven’t missed a day of taking daily iPhone photos in the almost three years since I started. I’ve amassed around 45,000 images, some of which are on my website, Nancy Mims. I’m starting to print my favorites in large scale on heavyweight hemp and organic cotton canvas.

After my walk, I love to sit in my favorite spot in my living room, on a Victorian sofa reupholstered in my own Mod Green Pod fabric, while I send emails, make the day’s lists, and organize my thoughts before going up to my studio.

After the big commute to my garage apartment studio in my backyard, I make a cup of tea, throw open some windows, and choose my music for the morning. I’m an unabashed Morrissey fan (and I actually got to meet him a few months ago!), so today’s work day begins with the fairly ferocious Years of Refusal. I’m focused and ready to get to work!

I always have tons of projects going on all at once. Keeping my concepts organized and within my line of vision within my studio is always a challenge. Some of the projects and ideas are kept on clipboards, hung on the wall above my desk. Here are a few of the clipboards: My watercolors, a tiny collage made from a painting, string and a small vine, a digital collage made from a photo I took of my daughter, and a sketch study of wings.

My desk is currently piled pretty high with all sorts of things; the mess is good because it means I’ve been too busy to clean it. I know that wherever I dig, I’ll find something inspiring. Here are some of the things I pulled off of it, all related to current projects.

Clockwise from top left: A collage I made; book of Japanese optical art; photo and poem blocks I’m working on with a friend; a stack of my favorite home design magazines (Elle Deco, UK edition!); color sampling for my custom textiles; a book about Christopher Dresser, whose work I recently discovered at the Victoria & Albert in London; a vintage text book turned to an illustration of bee hives; fabrics recently purchased at Liberty of London; baker’s twine (beautiful colors!); book on Joseph Cornell.

Mod Green Pod, my organic textiles company, is beginning a new chapter, bringing my signature designs to new product categories like home decor, accessories, kitchen textiles, wall decor, and others. Here is a sneak peek from one of my new collections. This design, and entire collection, was inspired by a recent trip to England. I’m combining ornate mid-Victorian interpretations of Asian decor  with late London Mod’s clean lines. Here I have printed some samples on paper, so I can play with color, scale and direction.

One of my favorite current Mod Green Pod projects is an ongoing series of fabrics I’m designing for Austin’s local, artisan food delivery company, Farmhouse Delivery. Each month this year, I’m designing a different print inspired by locally grown produce significant to that month. January was beets, February was carrots, and March is plum blossoms in the spring sky. This week, I’m working on the April design, which will be either leeks or strawberries.

After a quick lunch break, I edit and select a few photos to send off to my textile printer, who will digitally transfer the images to a beautiful, heavyweight 100 percent hemp that I’ve been using for my large scale photos. I’m beginning to sell the photos, which really need to be seen to be appreciated, but I also need to put images up on my website. It’s odd to struggle with a photograph of a photograph, but these are so tactile, it’s almost impossible to capture them properly. I give it another try then realize it’s already time to pick up my kids at school.

When I arrive at my son’s school, he is VERY excited to show me his new painting of an exploding volcano. I’m completely blown away by the composition, movement and colors and am certain that elements of it will eventually end up in one of my designs. Both of my kids inspire me in surprising ways, mostly because they are so uninhibited and unselfconsciously creative. Since having them, I feel like I’ve learned how to let go of some of my creative inhibitions and have become much freer in my own imagination.

Today, my daughter has her modern dance class. It’s amazing to watch her move through the dance studio so freely and confidently. I’m hoping she hangs on to that feeling of liberation and creative movement throughout her life.

After stopping at our beloved neighborhood food co-op, Wheatsville, for a few dinner ingredients, we go home and I begin dinner. I use some of the beautiful local produce from my Farmhouse Delivery box or items I picked up at Boggy Creek Farm, not too far from here. I love cooking, especially when the ingredients are as beautiful as these. A postprandial dance party breaks out in our kitchen, followed by bedtime for the kids.

Thanks, Nancy!

Marni Elyse Katz is a Contributing Editor at Design Milk. She lives in Boston where she contributes regularly to local publications and writes her own interior design blog, StyleCarrot.