Rooted in the aesthetics of simplicity and intentionality, BZDesign began in Chicago in 1980, and now operates out of Cloth Fiber Workshop, the textile education studio of founder Barbara Zaretsky, located in Asheville’s River Arts District.
Barbara Zaretsky is a textile artist and the director of Cloth Fiber Workshop. Originally from the Chicago area, she studied textile design at Northern Illinois University and the Art Institute of Chicago, and Art History at the University of Illinois, continuing her education at Penland School of Crafts. A member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, Barbara was named one of the top five designers in Asheville by Southern Living magazine. Barbara has many pieces in private collections across the U.S. and abroad and her work has appeared in Victoria magazine, Metropolis, Southern Living, Our State and other regional, national and trade publications and blogs.
“I’ve always been fascinated with textiles and the influence they have on our culture. Inspired by the things around me—color, movement, light, nature, architecture and design—I am moved to create art for everyday use. Functional textiles can enhance our lives in subtle yet powerful ways—from expressing who we are to communicating emotion.”
Our work at BZDesign is purposeful. We believe that thoughtful, responsible design can help transform the way that people view the objects in their lives and enhance the way they live.
We believe that an object has more meaning when the owner understands the connection to the way it was made and values the process. With each product we make, we aspire to bring beauty and harmony into our customer’s lives, but also to advocate for the sustainable use of our planet’s resources.
Minimalist and modern, Barbara’s work is influenced by the natural world and by the Japanese aesthetic principle of ma, which encourages makers to strive to release the inner life or energy of an object and arrange objects to create a sense of space. This aesthetic is defined as much by what is left out as by what is included. The inherent nature of working with plant dyes encourages the acceptance of imperfection and randomness. "This process of letting go has changed the way I think and work and as a result my approach to designing pattern"
The integrity of the materials we use is not an afterthought, but a critical element of the design. We use sustainable fabrics including hand-spun, hand-woven Ahimsa silk, humanely harvested without harm to the silkworms and the silk is spun similar to cotton or linen, instead of being reeled. The resulting yarn is soft, fluffy, and light. We also use, natural linen, and locally milled or organic cottons.
Our warm earthy palette is achieved with plant dyes including: cutch, madder root, pomegranate, indigo and weld.
Our printed designs are created by block printing by hand with mordants or global organic textile standard (GOTS) certified textile inks. For our hand-embroidered designs, we use linen yarn.
Produced in our Asheville studio, BZDesign hand dyed products begin with washing and mordanting the fabric. The material is then dyed two to three times with plant dyes, incorporating a clamp-resist (shibori) technique to create pattern. The fabric is then hand block printed or hand embroidered to add another layer of surface design. The final product is finished with hand or machine sewing.
Our block printed line begins with unbleached linen yardage that is stretched across long tables and block printed with our own designs. The fabric is then cut to size. A hand embroidered linen detail and machine sewing finish each piece.
Our studio is located in Riverview Station [South], 191 Lyman Street, studio 104 in Asheville's River Arts District. Visit us Monday - Saturday, 10 am - 4 pm or call 828.505.2958 for an appointment.
We share our studio with Cloth Fiber Workshop, a textile arts learning center. See the website for more information.