by Alia Akkam
Saana Baker was devastated after the career aptitude test she took in high school suggested she become a mortician. So, when she was doodling in the back of French class and a classmate remarked that she should print the spontaneous design on a T-shirt, Baker began formulating plans for a more cheerful profession. “Someone had to create the patterns on Hallmark wrapping paper, on the insides of envelopes, on curtains,” she recalls. “How could I come up with patterns for a living?”
As a student in the Textile/Surface Design program, Baker fell in love with weaving and embarked on a career at such brands as Doblin Fabric and F. Schumacher & Co. She worked with Los Angeles designer Barbara Barry for 16 years, and now, as a consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area where she was raised, she collaborates with the likes of Jiun Ho, David Phoenix, and McGuire Furniture, flexing her “textile design muscle,” as she puts it.
While conceiving upholstery, wallpaper, bedding, and rug designs for her clients, Baker grew frustrated by a dearth of home textiles magazines. This led her to launch The Textile Eye in 2019, a subscription-based, comprehensive quarterly report of what struck her at trade shows including Maison & Objet and Salone del Mobile. “I wanted to share what I was seeing in an inspiring and uplifting way with people who were also trapped behind computers,” she says.
Baker continues to produce The Textile Eye, which she describes as “a cross between a trend service and a coffee table book,” in digital and print formats.
Recently, the publication evolved. When industry trade shows came to a standstill during the pandemic, it allowed Baker to push beyond just exhibition hall finds. Now, through interviews and photographs, The Textile Eye spotlights designers, artisans, and new collections that capture Baker’s reverence for high-quality craftsmanship.“Creative burnout is real for me,” she explains, “but seeing gorgeous products, the level of intricate details, the colors, it always lifts the spirit.”