Designer Q&A: Colleen Mothander of Camden Hydes
Born and raised in Wellesley, interior designer Colleen Mothander moved back to Boston last summer after years of living in other cities. Now situated in South Boston with her family, she’s decided to create a new line of Boston-bred furnishings that nod to the old with a bit of the new.
Tell us about where the idea for you new line came from.
I happen to love hair-on-hide pieces and rugs, and as an interior designer I found there wasn’t a lot of it out there. I also happen to have a love for antique and vintage pieces that have a story behind them, so I came up with this line where I wanted to do a series of pieces with each one as unique as the hide that covers them.
What were you doing before Camden Hydes?
I worked for an interior designer in New York City and in Washington D.C. In D.C., I started my own firm, but Boston is home for me. We just moved back in the summer and I decided although I’ll continue with the interior design a bit, my love is really in making beautiful things. I love to spend a lot of time with my family and my two boys are really little at this point. So, I wanted to do something I could kind of involve them in and be able to work while taking care of them as well.
Where does the name come from?
The namesake of the company is my two little boys Alden and Cameron— that makes Camden. Each individual piece also has a name. Each one gives a nod to the people and places in Boston that have influenced me and the brand.
What goes into making your pieces?
I refurbish and reupholster them and transform them into new pieces which I think has a nod to the old but also has become really current with the hide on it. I love that because I’m a big texture person and I think that the hide provides such a beautiful texture. The natural colors that are in it really kind of make the pieces stand out.
Another thing that makes my pieces unique is, as a designer, I love details, so I decided to finish off each piece underneath with Camden box plaid fabric, a label, and a little gold horse bit. Although it’s not an angle that you often see, I love that the customer is able to know it’s there and it just makes it a little special.
Camden Hydes is solely seating, right?
I’m starting with seating for a number of reasons. Especially with living in the city, you always have the need for extra seating when somebody comes over, and when you’re not using it for seating, you can put your feet up on it or what have you. But it’s been good for me because I found some gorgeous [antique pieces] and it’s enabled me to bring my stuff and show it to different people and do it out of my SUV—I don’t need to hire a moving company every time. So for my small business, that’s how I wanted to start. At some point in the near future I plan to make custom pieces.
Where do you get the hides?
They’re mostly Brazilian and Columbian cowhides. I get them from a company in the Midwest. They send me photos so I get to see the exact hide and then I can envision how I want to lay it out. I like to work with this company because all of the hides are cruelty-free. I love animals and some people ask me, “Oh, you’re using hides?” But these animals are never killed just for their hides. It’s always a secondary byproduct. That’s important to me and that was the reason why I went to that company. Other than where I get the hides from, for all of my resources, I use vendors from the Boston area because I like to give back to small businesses like myself.
Where can your work be found?
Right now it’s online at camdenhydes.com. It’s on display at the 555 Gallery in South Boston through the end of the month. I’ll also be doing a pop up shop at the Boston Design Center in April.
The Camden Hydes launch party will be held Wednesday, February 17, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., 555 Gallery, 555 E 2nd Street, South Boston, camdenhydes.com.
This interview has been edited and condensed.