Designer Spotlight: Nadia Watts and How Her Heritage Inspires Her Designs

You could say that creative design runs in the family for Nadia Watts, who launched her debut fabric line, The Gem Collection, with Kravet Inc. based on the stained glasswork of her great-great grandfather, Louis Comfort Tiffany, founder of the famed Tiffany Studios in New York City. “I am enamored at the complexity of his skills, his love for nature and colors, and how he used a combination of different materials and techniques,” she said. “And of course, his keen eye for color.”

The Early Years of a Designer

The Denver-based Watts got her start during her senior year of college when she joined her mother at an interior design studio to look at fabrics for an antique French chaise lounge she wanted to re-cover.  As they flipped through the fabrics, Watts provided insightful comments on the various textures and patterns, and how they related to the chaise’s style. The designer offered her an internship at the studio, Elaine Stephenson Interiors, and within the first week, Watts knew she had found her passion.

After graduation she worked as an assistant to a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the American Decorative Arts Department, an experience that furthered her love of design and textiles. “I was simultaneously attending NYSID in the evenings and weekends and taking business classes at NYU focused on design, and attending lectures and talks in the remaining time,” she said. “This was my foundation of design.”

designer Nadia Watts at work

 Finding Inspiration ... and Opening a Business

Watts finds inspiration all around her —“I see it in everyday life, nature, and when I travel and have the opportunity to see architecture and art around the world,” she said. Part of the reason she loves creating and designing is because she’s curious about how and where objects come from and how they are made. “This helps me determine what to use in my projects,” she commented. “A project can feel completed, but design is constant as there is always something that could be added or taken away from a space to enhance it. It is that fluidity that I really enjoy.”

She started her business, Nadia Watts Interior Design, in 2009, a little earlier than she originally envisioned. “I trusted that feeling and went with it,” she said. “I planned and set goals, and am happy to say that I continue to achieve them.”

Nadia Watts window treatment

Creating a Fabric Collection with Kravet

Her collaboration with Kravet began two years ago, and debuted in the summer of 2022. “I’ve enjoyed every moment of the process — from when I first got the idea to do a fabric collection to sharing my thoughts with the Kravet leadership to seeing it come to fruition — all during the pandemic no less,” she said. “I put trust into the process and those around me and it allowed me to become more fluid with design decisions.” She began conceptualizing the collection after visiting The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass several years ago. Inspired by the exhibit, she began using watercolors and markers to replicate the rich, iridescent colors — like chartreuse, fuchsia and teal — featured on Tiffany’s Favrile glass before moving the designs to textiles.

Still, the endeavor proved challenging in terms of time, energy and creative thinking since Watts developed The Gem Collection while juggling multiple client projects. It “forced me to be super focused and very aware of how I was spending my time,” she explained. “Having been exposed to Tiffany Studios Glass at a fairly young age and then throughout my life, I was forever inspired by the colors, textures, and shapes. I envisioned those very colors, textures and shapes in a new medium-fabric and I knew I wanted to create that collection.“ 

Nadia Watts pillows

Watts plans on creating more products in the future, including wallpaper, rugs and lighting. She intends on doing this while expanding her interior design practice to include projects in other cities and destinations. 

All photos of Nadia Watts and the Gem Collection provided by Kravet.

Many designers are inspired by their heritage. Read our blog post on Jonathan French and what he learned from his famous mother, Anna French.  


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