Denyse Schmidt Quilts: Art For Your Bed

“Drunk Love in a Log Cabin”, Signature Design

The first time I saw Denyse Schmidt’s quilts years ago, I felt as if I’d been pleasantly hit in the head by a hefty box of crayons.  A quilter myself, I’ve quietly followed her work, lurking online and admiring her spare, brilliant wizardry.  Often described as “painterly”, her exhilaratingly colorful, simple designs are reminiscent of Mark Rothko and Newman Barnett’s color field paintings of the 1960’s. Although abstract and decidedly “modern”, Schmidt’s designs are actually rooted in an American tradition when early quilts were utilitarian and elemental, in contrast to later pieces, which tended to be more carefully constructed, decorative heirlooms.

Schmidt discloses “…what inspired me to begin in the first place were quilts that were very old, but looked modern. Especially fifteen years ago when I started the business most people who were making contemporary quilts weren’t really referencing the simplicity or the limited color palette or the kind of quirkiness of some of those really old quilts.  That was the driving force for me-I felt like these (traditional) quilts would fit in a modern interior, they seemed like modern paintings to me….”1

Made of pre-washed cotton or wool, depending on the collection, the quilts are designed by and pieced in her Bridgeport, CT studio, occupying a historic building which was coincidentally previously home to the American Fabrics Company.  Schmidt works with a group of Minnesota Amish women to finely hand-quilt the Couture quilt line while the Works quilts are machine finished in the studio and offer a quicker lead time.  In spite of their artful spirit, the quilts are designed to be used as bed coverings.

Highly sought out, Schmidt’s creations, to name a few, have been commissioned for Philip Johnson’s Glass House, and Stone House Inn in Rhode Island, where she made fifteen custom-designed quilts and pillow shams to complement a modern renovation of the historic seaside resort.  Undeniably diverse, Denyse Schmidt’s quilts ingeniously bridge the gap between old and new, traditional and modern, dynamic and repose, craft and art.


1  Kristin Link interview with Denyse Schmidt, April 2, 2012 at blog.



  1. I have seen Denyse Schimdt’s quilts before and, like you, have been wooed by their beauty and simplicity. I am so impressed at the workmanship and the design. I really wish that I had a billion dollars to spend on one or two. They are pricy, but the craftsmanship, sense of modern mixed with tradition and beauty seem worth the cost. Totally. Now… I should save up for one!

Speak Your Mind