Textile master Kevin O’Brien pulls back the curtain on his Philly design studio.
Designer Kevin O’Brien inspects the color of a just-painted brocade devore silk velvet fabric.
Kevin O’Brien was just a university student studying architecture when his boutique-brand, hand-painted scarves were picked up by Barneys. Fast forward 20 years, and he’s an unmistakable force in home décor: Celebrities like Bruce Springsteen and Gisele Bündchen tuck into his bedding at night, and Saks Fifth Avenue, Anthropologie, and Neiman Marcus all carry his namesake line of pillows, curtains, bedding, and throws.
But don’t be fooled by O’Brien’s luxe global aesthetic—everything is designed right here in Philly. “Most people complain about pieces being too cold, too plain, too simple. Our work has contemporary elements and a warmth that comes from each piece being worked on by hand,” says O’Brien, walking through his fabric-filled South Broad Street studio. The artisan opened a second studio in Nepal in 2006, where he says handmade techniques like weaving, dyeing, and embroidery are unparalleled.
His company now sells to luxury retailers in 49 states and 10 countries and “does as well in Oklahoma as we do in Beverly Hills.” This fall, he turns his attention back to where it all began: accessories, with his new collection of patterned scarves now available at the Art Museum gift shop. Says O’Brien: “Efficiency is not the ultimate goal—the goal is to create something that provides delight.”