ISSUE 18  |  The Handywoman

New Geometry: Quilts Designed by an Architect and a Painter

May 05, 2014 3:00 PM

BY Izabella Simmons

When longtime friends Eliza Kena and Claire Oswalt set out to modernize the traditional grandmotherly quilt, each brought their own skills to the table: Kena, an architect by training with several years of quilting experience, maintains precision, while Oswalt, a third-generation painter brings an experimental approach to the patterns. The duo’s Hollywood-based design workshop, Hopewell, is named after the Hopewell Exchange Program, a common network and trading route once used by the Native American to trade materials and goods. Through its online store, Hopewell offers handmade quilts and blankets that are intended to be used: they’re all 100 percent cotton, backed with a cotton/linen fabric, and are machine washable. Next, Kena and Oswalt plan to branch out and introduce heirloom-quality kids’ clothes, throws, and floor pillows to the Hopewell collection–count us in.

Photography via Hopewell

Above: Some of Hopewell’s quilts introduce a Josef Albers-inspired design and palette to the traditional courthouse quilt pattern. 

Above: Many of Hopewell’s designs are one-of-a-kind; others are made in several editions. “Much of our process involves play: moving around small color swatches and letting a design emerge organically,” says Oswalt.

Above: Each quilt is hand numbered on a Hopewell label.

Above: The One Of A Kind 019 Quilt measures 40 by 60 inches and is handmade of cotton, yarn-dyed essex linen, and natural cotton batting; $395. Our “quilts combines an age-old tradition with fresh design and quality fabrics, giving new meaning to heirloom,” says Kena. 

Above: The limited-edition Tell Tale “East” Quilt measures 40 by 60 inches and is made from colorfast cotton backed with flax-colored cotton-linen; $365. 

Above L: The Tell Tale “East Quilt features different shades of pink and blue and a pin-striped border. Above R:  A counterpart Tell Tale “West” quilt will be released later this year. 


Above: Quilters Eliza Kenan and Claire Oswalt in their studio in Hollywood (it’s located at 1947 N. Cahuenga Boulevard and open by appointment.)

Hopewell quilts are for sale in Brooklyn at Primary Essentials. Also have a look at modern quilts by Shark Tooth in Brooklyn and Jess Brown in Petaluma, CAGo to Gardenista for Tips of How to Make a Perfect Bed. If you’re in LA, Oswalt’s paintings can be seen at the Line Hotel in Korea Town.