Homework and Harmony

After more than two decades of bridging the gap between fine art and commercial art, Brentano Fabrics Founder Iris Wang is finally ready to design.

by Erika Templeton

Iris Wang’s career has been an exemplified history of philosophy, humility and a Zen-like approach to finding peace with art within the constraints of commercialized Western culture.

She has been an artist her entire life and a fabric designer for over 20 years. But only now does she say she is finally ready to design.

“I was always adamant to become a fine artist. I had a lot of questions about life and found all the answers in art and thinking about the art,” she says. “But when I got out of art school, there was no way to make a living, so I started to do different kinds of jobs.”

Among them was a stint running a small flower shop, and another assisting an interior designer. Those odd jobs turned out to be vocational training for running Brentano Fabrics, a business Wang founded in 1990. The company, headquartered in Chicago, has been growing steadily ever since.

“When I decided to do fabrics, I went to the Art Institute [in Chicago] and took a hand-weaving course,” she recalls. “I was very bold. I didn’t work for a fabric company first. I just went ahead and started a company.”

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