Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Kathleen McCoy, Bella Notte's designer and founder, started with just a few bolts of Linen and a vision for a bedding line that would be simultaneously couture and family friendly (watch her interview). Over the seasons fabrics and styles have come and gone, but her mission and attention to detail have not wavered.

After more than 17 years of being the sole design contributor to the line in its many iterations (bedding, baby, apparel, tabletop and more), Kathleen decided to bring new life to the process. With another in house designer, she would be able to implement ideas more readily and collaborate with a like-minded personthe end result being a reinvigorated offering. Not only would the line continue to echo easy-care luxury, glamour, and chic interior design, but might also inspire a whole new generation of fans.

When we started the search for the right person to fill this role, there were countless responses. Leeta Steenwyk stood out immediately with her multi-faceted approach to art and design, and in her passion for travel and nature, all very much in line with Kathleen's own influences. Here's what caught our attention:  
"As a life-long artist and crafts person, I have been ruled by a desire to create beauty and to have the knowledge to do so using a variety of materials. This journey has taken me through inks, paint, fabric, wood, clay, metals, photography, and computer illustration. I find inspiration and beauty everywhere, although nothing can compare to the colors and textures in an exotic land or the perfection in nature."
A collage of foraged items from Leeta's travels
When Leeta came for the interview, she brought along a comprehensive mood board as her own interpretation of Bella Notte's products. You can see nature infused in the textures and patterns, the colors are both vibrant and earthy, and the drape of the fabrics soft and flowing. There are also hints of an ornate vintage flair, which has always been a part of Bella Notte's signature. We were very excited to welcome Leeta to the team and she got to work straight away helping to realize Kathleen's vision, while bringing her own unique aesthetic and experience to table.
Leeta's Bella Notte Mood Board
Leeta answered some questions for us so we can get to know her and learn about what is behind some of Bella Notte's 2014 exciting introductions:

Q: How did you get started in art and design? Where did your initial interest or passion come from?
I have been excited about art and creating since I was a child.  I still have the catalog I drew at the age of 12 of my first clothing collection and store. My parents encouraged my artistic skills by giving me drawing projects whenever I was too rambunctious!

Q: Where did you go to school and what was your focus?
I earned my bachelor degree at Central Michigan University. I studied fashion design, languages, and a lot of art. Along the way, my practical side won out and I graduated with a degree in bilingual/bi-cultural education. After some years of teaching language (and making a lot of art on the side), I decided to go back to my first passion. I studied industrial design as San Francisco State University and worked in a home textile company where I designed for several major brands including Liz Claiborne, Nautica, Dockers, Roxy, and Quiksilver.

Q: Where do you find inspiration?
I am visually voracious. Inspiration for color, pattern, texture comes from everywhere. I look at the latest from the top apparel designers to stay on trend yet am inspired by the beauty and workmanship of vintage fabrics as well.

Q: What are you design strengths and challenges?
My strength as a designer is my ability to interpret current trends in a brand appropriate way and then add an unexpected touch. When I am almost finished with a print, I think, "What can I add, or take away to make this even more beautiful or special?"

Q: When you are given a new project creating a print or a series, where do you begin?
When starting a new print, with Bella Notte for example, I listen carefully to Kathleen. My goal is to get the essence of what she is looking for while keeping the Bella customer in mind. Along the design process there are many paths to take, but I know if I keep these two things in the forefront not only will the print be beautiful, it will be what the customer is looking for . 

Q: What is your own personal aesthetic? How would you describe the décor in your home?
My house is rustic contemporary. I value space and light and appreciate the workmanship of antiques. I am impressed with the perfection in nature and am always bringing home wonderful found objects to embellish my décor.
Items that contribute to Leeta's Home Decor 

Q: Do you look at magazines for inspiration? If so, which ones?
I subscribe to all the best fashion and home magazines, but also look at every single catalog that arrives in the mail. You just never know where inspiration will come from!

Textiles from Indonesia
Q: Favorite place you have traveled? How do you incorporate that into your work, if at all?
Traveling is vital to me – the more exotic the better! My favorite place is Indonesia. Warm tropical waters, delicious food, friendly people. I traveled for seven months throughout the country and was impressed by the textiles. Every island has it's own traditional style. The color, patterns and technique vary widely and natural dyes are still used. I brought home several pieces - you may be seeing a touch of this influence this coming season!
Leeta using a loom in Sumba, an island in Eastern Indonesia
Q: What do you like, so far, about working for Bella Notte?
As soon as I walked in the door at Bella Notte, I wanted to work here. I like the light, airy environment and the people are all lovely. To be surrounded by gorgeous, luxe fabrics in such a lush palette is like a dream. I enjoy working for a smaller company who emphasizes quality.  

Q: Can you give us an idea/sneak peek about what's in store for Bella next year?
I am excited to be working on some gorgeous prints that will add new interest to a solid or color-blocked bed. Since the prints will utilize colors from the Bella palette, it will be an easy way to update and rejuvenate the bedding you already have!

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