By AnnMarie Martin | Photography courtesy of Malene Barnett
Over the years, Malene Barnett has blossomed from product designer to lifestyle expert. But
before any of that she was (and
still is) a gifted artist. She’s studied
painting, photography, and even
fashion illustration at FIT, where she
decided to change her canvas with
textile design (carpet design in particular)
eventually going on to revolutionize the
accent rug business of major retailers.
It was when she struck out on her
own though that she truly made her
mark. Through her travel experiences,
heritage, and plain ol’ street smarts
she developed into the total package
as a business owner, with expertise
in not just designing and creating, but
also sourcing, manufacturing, and
marketing and brand development.
Here, we’ll chronicle her journey
towards her ultimate goal of connecting
people to the global community
through beautiful design.
Malene B. opens for business
After gaining some invaluable market experience at
various companies, Barnett started her own in 2009,
breaking out onto the scene with carpet. “It was a
great way to combine my love for painting and
drawing and creating a functional product,” she said.
The travel bug
Barnett has traveled the world, from Thailand to China, Ghana
and India. She takes photographs everywhere she goes,
carrying a sketchbook as well, and has an affection for crafts
and anything handmade from these locales. Her design process
usually starts from these remnants, selecting different elements
to create an icon to build and draw off of.
Next steps … getting digital
Sketches then move to the computer where
she decides if a design should go into repeat
or become enlarged or scale back. “Once that
layout is created, I decide on color. Do I stay
true to what I saw, or do I change it?” she asks.