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21 www.wrightsvillebeachmagazine.com WBM Vinyl has made an impact in other places, including fabric, a field North Carolina designer Holly Aiken has taken advantage of to create a signature style of bags, totes, backpacks, purses and more during the last decade. Her work has allowed her to open two Stitch retail locations: Raleigh and Wilmington. Aiken’s designs have also been placed in stores across the country. However, she began her career in a different setting. “I went to North Carolina State University and studied design,” Aiken says. “After I graduated I began work as a web designer for various sites. I sewed on the side as a hobby and crafted bags for my friends.” Aiken began to lay the founda-tion for her career, choosing vinyl as her medium because of its durability, color palette and afford-ability. To help start her business, she continued her web work for supplemental income. “When I launched in 2004, I realized I had an advantage because I created my own website,” Aiken says. “Believe it or not, but it was rare to have a personal site back then. People could search the Internet and find me immediately.” Aiken’s accessories have a retro motif with a modern twist. Her designs are simple and easily recognizable with thick black trim, geometrical shapes and contrasting colors. Most of her inspiration comes from Pop Art artist Claes Oldenburg and color theorist Josef Albers. “It’s never been about the latest fashion trends or seasonal color palette,” Aiken says. “Fashion comes and goes; my work is more of an art statement.” Another area Aiken dabbled in was making vinyl furniture, in particular counter stools for restaurants. In addition to records and textiles, vinyl is more popular than ever in the furniture market. “Every vinyl piece I have goes out the door almost immediately,” says Randy Larson, owner of Eclectic Etc., a Wilmington furniture store. “I just can’t keep any of it in stock. Mid-century modern furniture is in demand these days.” Vintage vinyl furniture, Larson says, has supplanted the antique furniture craze as king of the home space. Collectors young and old have reignited the production of vinyl furniture and are on the hunt for pieces from the mid 20th century. “I think the popularity of vinyl is that it’s an antique but it looks like it hasn’t aged a day,” Larson says. “Couches and seats from the 60s look like they were made yesterday. The material is incredibly durable and easy to clean.” The dominance of vinyl in the furniture market has sparked fabricators to produce vinyl pieces once more. However, Larson says, the material isn’t up to the caliber it was 50 years ago. Today vinyl fabric is thin and not as resilient. That assessment hasn’t dissuaded buyers, but it has raised the value of vintage items. “These trends were set in California and traveled to New York and then Miami,” Larson says. “Trends come in phases, but vinyl is one thing that seems to last forever.” Opposite: Vinyl reproductions of Modernist classic furnishings, like Mies van der Rohe’s 1929 Barcelona chair, are surfacing in vintage emporiums, like the Ivy Cottage, Eclectic Etc. and Urban Revival. Above: Holly Aiken’s durably vinyl handbags are inspired by Pop Art designs. PHOTO BY ALLISON POTTER PHOTO BY JOSHUA CURRY


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