J. Banks from New Ravenna, Inspired by East Africa

Joni Vanderslice’s annual travels to Tanzania yielded two tangible rewards.

First, she and her husband were able to establish an orphanage for children aged three to five years. They’d lost their parents to diseases like malaria and AIDS. So the Vanderslices visit them once a year to see how they’re doing, and help with medical care.

“It took us four years to get it opened,” she says. “Now it’s been open for five years.”

And there were the visual patterns all around her – in trees, in palms and in concrete blocks. She translated them first into fabric designs for Kravet. Then came stone mosaics for New Ravenna.

“I got to know Sara Baldwin, the former owner of New Ravenna, and we became friends who loved talking about design,” she says. “She said ‘Let s do something.’”

And they did. The new collection, called J. Banks (for her maiden name), is all about colors and patterns. There are blacks and golds and blues and greens, in patterns taken from nature and the built environment.

“I love the whimsy of some of these – they’re organic and some look like wood, and then there’s the printing of the palms,” she says. “It’s a bit of delight that’s not done in the marketplace, and a combination of materials that’s incredibly intense.”

She envisions them used in powder rooms, on floors and entries and on backsplashes in kitchens – or anywhere else that someone wants to make a bold statement.

When it came to design and inspiration, it didn’t hurt to have Sara Baldwin and New Ravenna on her team. “Sara thought the designs we put together were something New Ravenna didn’t have, and were something that had legs,” she says. “And New Ravenna was amazing – when we collaborate, it makes it even better than anything I’ve ever done.”

It always helps to work with the best in the business.

For more, go here.

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