B Michael has been given the task of managing the textile interior of the Symbio Villa in Virgin Gorda, one of the British Virgin Islands.
Myrna Colley-Lee, who designed and operates the villa, recruited the designer to create bedding, tablecloths and even objects such as umbrella fabrics. Colley-Lee, who also works as a costume designer for theater, is a longtime client and friend, and the couple met many years ago. “I was really honored when she asked me to work with them to update the interior of the villa. It was created for a celebrity, ”Michael said, refusing to identify the individual.
After visiting the property with his eponymous brand co-founder and CEO, Mark-Anthony Edwards, a few years ago, Michael returns to complete the project to be ready in the fall for the upcoming season.
Interiors were new terrain for the designer, but a welcome challenge. “I am a frustrated interior designer, so of course it appeals to me. When I was growing up, my mother always changed things in our home and consulted about colors and so on. It has always been present. Now that we look at things that we have always wanted to do, this became one of those projects, ”he said.
It is especially creative to develop patterns. During his previous stay in the villa, Michael took photos of the flower arrangements that he had made eradicating flowers from the garden. These photos inspired some of the patterns used in the textiles. “It all really comes from space and will feel very much part of what’s going on there,” he said, adding that he also designs lightweight, tropical resort wear sold on the Symbio side.
The Virgin Gorda project has shown Michael the opportunity to develop a home line, which he looks forward to as he moves forward. During the closure, he and Edwards used the time to rebuild the company, which includes a designer-ready-to-wear collection that will be sold through the company’s first e-commerce effort next year.
It is additional, tangible opportunities like these that give Michael hope that representation can be improved in the industry. “Tangible means that we have investments in the company, in the industry. That’s what Mark-Anthony and I focus on for our own business. This is really where the difference lies – it’s economical. Having equity in the industry is most important, ”he said. “By equity, I mean that we have some ownership in the industry. It is a global $ 3 trillion industry. As black-owned companies in the fashion industry, we have very little equity, which means ownership, where we are at the table, we can make decisions, and we are stakeholders. ”
Going forward with plans, Michael said raising capital is always part of the agenda. Doing so as a color designer, as many have historically been excluded from access to capital “is a very specific thing,” he said. “The conversations are [becoming] lighter. Improvement occurs when capital has actually been raised. But real capital that allows us to really compete vertically so we can have a different kind of presence. ”
Planning to return to Virgin Gorda to complete the project could lead to other inspiration, he said. “I call it paradise because you are capable of nothing but sucking what is there. It’s not like going to Puerto Rico or one of the islands where there is a lot of activity. There are baths that are in the ocean and are one of the large rock formations that you can spend a few hours walking through. This is what you call an event. It’s like stopping the world and getting off. ”