About Elizabeth Whelan

Currently based is Portland, Maine, Elizabeth Whelan couples a refined aesthetic sense honed by a lifetime of creative handwork with a master’s understanding of manufacturing processes. Elizabeth applies a futurist’s sensibility to textiles that function as integral elements of consumer products.

She has developed light-responsive fabrics for Nike, wallcoverings constructed of paper yarns for KnollTextiles, fabrics for Tumi, and won a Design Distinction Award from ID Magazine. Her mesh fabric, Pinstripe, was part of the Diffrient World Chair, which won Best of the Best on the Red Dot Competition in 2010. She’s also been recognized by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Craft. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Whelan has taught textile design at the Parsons School of Design, National Institute of Fashion and Technology in New Delhi, India and at RISD.

About the Products

Elizabeth has done color work for leather collections including Prima and developed a woven leather collection inspired by the exoskeletons of ladybugs. Whelan started working on the Leather Weave project by scrutinizing the characteristics of Spinneybeck’s other lines. The rigid, polished surface of Lucente, made Whelan think of armor, a notion that steered her to beetles. Their exoskeletons, or carapaces, inspired her Leatherweave designs.

“The backs of beetles are fascinating,” says Elizabeth. “They’re the layer that protects the creature’s body, so the exoskeletons are akin to leather because they’re a skin of sorts. They’re rich with pattern and surface effects, which may be protective disguises even though the colors can be bold. Look at ladybugs. They come in two colorways that I know of — black dots on an orange background and orange dots on a black background. And ladybugs are only one beetle!”