We’re inspired by beautiful things and even more so, we’re inspired by seeing our faceted reflections in those beautiful things…
The beauty of her Caribbean surroundings and heritage inspired interior designer, Toni Suratsingh Crockett, when she designed her line of decorative pillows. Earlier this month, Toni Crockett Design hosted a gathering of friends and supporters at the Verandah Restaurant, Rust Street, St. Clair, Port of Spain to launch their new collection. These days, the Verandah Restaurant is one of Port-of-Spain’s creative hot spots, which opens its doors to patrons, creatives and local artisan-events alike. For the launch the Verandah was transformed to an exhibition space of lightboxes artfully layered with the colourful, hand painted silk pillows creating a lounge-feel of approachable luxury, while guests admired and commented on their favourite prints and patterns. This artistic approach to home decor was a collaboration between the interior designer and two other local creatives; Lisa Sarjeant-Gonzales of Lisa’s Fabrics who hand-painted the fabrics and Sew Chic Interiors who sewed the pillows themselves. The collection is a balance of design chic and island comfort. With themes like “Bamboo”, “Coral”, “Cocoa” and “Amerindian” Toni Crockett’s new decorative pillow collection is nothing if not designer island life.
We were intrigued by Toni’s career and her boutique interior design firm, Toni Crockett Design, so we took a peek into her background and inspiration. Here she shares her experiences and plans for collaborations with other local artists, along with the possibilities for expanding her collection.
(Read the Interview below.)
DI: How long have you been in the Interior Design profession?
TONI CROCKETT: I have been in the Interior Design profession for 11 years. The Company started in 2003 in Toronto, Canada as Tonic Designs and was reopened in 2011 in Trinidad as Toni Crockett Design.
DI: How do you define your national identity? Are Trinidadian or Canadian? Where did you study? When did you return to Trinidad to continue your professional career? Did you move back to Trinidad and instantly decide to start your own business? Talk to us about this journey.
TONI CROCKETT: I don’t like saying that I am half Trinidadian because although I was born and raised in Trinidad and I also lived in Toronto for 10 years and I am very proud of my Canadian background. My mother is Trinidadian and my father was Canadian, so I have held dual citizenship from birth. I’m a proud citizen of both countries.
DI: Where did you study and when did you return to Trinidad to continue your professional career?
TONI CROCKETT: I studied at George Brown College in Toronto. I had to attend night classes since I had a full-time job. I returned to Trinidad in 2011. It was always my plan to come home and start my own business. I absolutely LOVE Toronto but it has always been a dream of mine to bring the Company back home. My inspiration is the same today as it was when I first got into the Industry. Trinidad is a beautiful island, its colourful cultures combined with Toronto’s polished interior design aesthetic is exactly what inspire me. I always want my work to maintain that high level of quality and efficiency that I learned in Toronto but still deliver something that is uniquely Trinidadian.
DI: What inspired the collaboration with Lisa Sarjeant-Gonzales of (Lisa’s Fabrics) and Sew Chic Interiors?
TONI CROCKETT: Choosing to work with both Lisa’s Fabrics and Sew Chic Interiors was extremely easy! We have worked with Sew Chic on almost all of our Interior Design projects because their quality is simply flawless and their work ethic is outstanding. Gail (the owner) and I have become good friends. I would describe Lisa’s work as intriguing; when I first saw her at Up Market in 2013 her talent was so obvious that I made a mental note to find some way of working with her. My husband will attest to the fact that I am obsessed with Lisa’s clothing line. When I finally approached Lisa about the collection and she was as excited as I was, I knew that it was going to yield outstanding results. She did not disappoint.
DI : Do you plan to expand the collection? Are there any new products and designs we can look forward to?
TONI CROCKETT: The Scented Candles and now the Decorative Pillows are only the first two steps in a multistep plan. The third has already been discussed and is in the planning stage. However, we are currently focusing on the Pillows especially since the demand has been so incredible!
DI: How have you found the experience of being a boutique design firm in Trinidad? Has your work been solely T&T based or have you worked within the wider Caribbean region as well? How have you found the general experience; positives and challenges?
TONI CROCKETT: Being a Boutique Design Firm in Trinidad is extremely rewarding! I feel blessed to be able to do what I love every day, interiors are my passion and I really cannot see myself doing anything else. That being said, it does come with its fair share of challenges. Some major challenges would be the availability of items and the famous (or should I say infamous!) Trinidadian work ethic. However, through a great deal of fine-tuning, we have found an excellent group of suppliers and workers that we constantly go to. We also shop for items internationally when they cannot be sourced locally.
One definite positive about working in Trinidad is that once you make the right connection with the right people, your work will run exactly how you want it. Because we are such a small island, interpersonal relationships are extremely important!
Most of our work since moving back has been in Trinidad but we also recently completed the design for Patino’s Restaurant & Bar on Shirvan Road in Tobago along with a vacation home in Mt. Irvine. Although we haven’t ventured further north as yet, we’re always on the lookout for more Caribbean opportunities.
DI: Where can we purchase your pillows and candle collection?
TONI CROCKETT: Our Scented Candles can be purchased at Lotus Wares at #7 Christina Court, Maraval and The Youthful Vegan at #1 Middle St. and Patna St., St. James.
We have not ventured into any retail outlets for our Decorative Pillows as yet but they can be purchased directly from us by sending your orders to [email protected] They will also be at The Bits N’ Pieces show on November 1st at Movie Towne.
We thank Toni, for sharing a bit of her design story with us at Designer Island!
Photography by: Rene Ortiz
Contributing Editor: Raeanne Watts
Rae is an Attorney at Law based in Trinidad and Tobago.
She considers herself an 'experimenting creative' with a professional interest in law.
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