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Milli Home Rolls Out Up-Market Line

New York — Milli Home's new high-end Alpha Workshops license officially kicks off at the New York Home Textiles Market with 20 styles of decorative pillows, five bedding patterns and five to six table ensembles in three colors each on fine linens and silks such as crepe de chine.

The line targets boutiques and better department/specialty stores.

This urban contemporary collection of year-round, trans-seasonal designs more than doubles Milli Home's current offerings, is manufactured in India, and carries suggested retails of $500 on queen comforters; $300 on queen duvets; $80 to $130 on pillows; $75 to $100 on table runners; $20 placemats; and $5 per napkin.

The company plans to double the line that currently marries neutrals and mid-to-hot brights by next spring and add potholders, mitts, aprons and throws, saying there is potential for “exponential growth.” Some of the inspiration came from ceramics, wallpaper and dinnerware; half of Milli Home's showroom will display Alpha at market.

Alpha Workshops, a non-profit design studio that trains and hires people living with HIV and AIDS, works in various media such as Venetian plasters, wall finishes and hand-painted wallpapers for its own purposes and the interior design trade. A 6 percent royalty on the sale of all goods will be donated to Alpha along with 25 percent of the proceeds from each season's best-selling item.

Milli Home President Anil Nayar described Alpha as “an artistic goldmine” with all the different media it offers. “The collaborative process we have together works really well. The biggest challenge we've encountered is how do you best interpret these works of art onto textiles?”

Pavan Uttam, vice president of Milli Home, continued that Alpha's “infusion of color and intricacy of detail” were the synergies Milli Home saw between the two organizations. “As different as the lines are, we can show both in the showroom because they play off each other,” he said, adding that the company is looking to jointly attend gift shows to target the independent boutique market.

“I wasn't sure where I wanted to go with (the line) because we sell to the mid market. So the real challenge was: how do I make Alpha different enough from our line,” recalled Marsha Cutler, senior vice president and designer for Milli Home.

“Marsha's challenge was how to give the collection depth and dimension. She was trying to give it a hi-low textured effect,” said Uttam. “She used everything from silk to linens to execute the line and neutrals to anchor the colors.”

Cutler said she changed colors and scales, upgraded fabrics and focused more on the craftsmanship by layering in texture with embroidery and beadwork without altering the original designs. “It's more about creating a beautiful collection — taking the artwork and making it come alive — and less about hitting certain price points,” she said.

Ken Wampler, executive director of Alpha Workshops, who has a background in fabric painting, added: “This group of people didn't come together around an aesthetic but an illness unfortunately. Our artwork is based on process not aesthetic.”

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