When you look at how retailers place cushions in store you can see why they are described as the ‘lipstick of interiors retailing’. In retail outlets they are the impulse purchases and are priced accordingly. Think about it do you really have light bulb moments of ‘good heavens I really must buy a cushion or two’? Whilst they are indeed high volume sellers for retailers and easy buys for customers in areas of high footfall would you really go trawling Etsy looking for a cushion???
Why then, would I argue that they are not what textile designers should be building their business upon if they do not already have a fairly substantial wholesale business to interiors retailers?
It’s certainly true that cushions are relatively inexpensive to make (assuming you’re a textile designer) and in part this is because they use relatively small amounts of fabric and the design is straightforward. However they are not aspirational design objects and folks whose designs end up being sold on cushions certainly didn’t start out by targeting that part of the market … no, no, no they are much more likely to have built a larger range to create a look (think Cath Kidston, Orla Kiely, Emma Bridgewater). So the message here is get known for something substantial and the cushions will follow in their own good time.
My observation based on working with small design firms and textiles designer makers is that the decision to add cushions to your product range is often not driven by knowledge of the customers’ needs, but instead by a view of what would be simple/easy/low risk to produce. I hate to be difficult but honestly, this just ain’t good enough if you want to be seen, bought and respected.
One alternative is to find the resources to make something stunning and outstanding, which will get you noticed and use this as a calling card for commissions and sales of other (safer) products.