Jonathan Haggerty unzips a large decorative pillow case made out of an Italian textile, flips it inside out and explains, “This is the side that was supposed to be used, but it arrived stained and I didn’t like it. The reverse side, however, is much more beautiful. I love its organic texture, so I just turned it around [inside out] and made it my own. I’m always innovating.”
When clients hire Haggerty, the owner of the West Alameda Street soft goods design studio Pillow Talk, to curate the décor and design of their homes, they will quickly see that his vision is far from ordinary. Haggerty designs and fabricates his products by hand, believing wholeheartedly in an old-school spirit of refinement and luxury. He is abhors mass production, consumerism and seeing the same flashing trends. A self-proclaimed artist, Haggerty tries to keep alive the respect and value of design and fashion eras of long ago. “If I see one more chevron pattern, give me a gun,” he says. “That is not me!”
The shelves inside Pillow Talk are covered with decorative pillows, bedding, hardware samples from a Parisian company and granite bowls from Korea. Five-hundred yards of fabric are piled into a heaping pyramid on the floor, and more racks of fabric frame the back walls of the studio. A custom side table — made of fossilized starfish and a great white shark tooth from Morocco — sits in the corner, waiting for the right person to give it a home.
Although Haggerty enjoys talking about pillows, design is his true passion. “I know design. It starts with listening to my surroundings, whether that’s the birds chirping in the mountains or the industrial acoustics of a city. I do what comes to me. If I see something, I just do it. I don’t obsess over a color or fabric. I never second guess my intuition,” he says.
In 2016, Haggerty was determined to provide a sewing service not offered by other Santa Fe businesses: Making high-end custom pillows, bedding and drapery. Haggerty’s early days in the business were humbling. He had little money but huge ambition. “The best thing I’ve ever done is spend money I didn’t have,” he says. “Taking that risk is the wisest choice I’ve made.” Haggerty ordered some fabric and created a cutting table by taking closet doors off their hinges and putting them the floor. His mom loaned him the cash for a sewing machine and, stitch by stitch, he began building his business. “It took one person to believe in me,” he says. “My first order was a custom pillow for a local design store.”
Skills, including beading and embroidery, that Haggerty gained while studying fashion and interior design in Paris, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco serve him well in his current work. His clients, primarily owners of luxury homes, appreciate his particular talents and creativity. He tells them, “I want to know everything about your lifestyle.” For instance, he asks, “What do you like to eat? What are your favorite colors? Tell me about your artwork. Do you have kids? Animals? Plants?” Knowing these types of things enables him to create the right environment, one personalized for them.
As his shop’s name suggests, Haggerty strives to make close and meaningful connections with his clients. He learns about their tastes, lifestyle and dreams so he can create spaces for them that enhance their emotional and spiritual well-being. “We, as humans, are affected by our senses,” he says. “What we see when we wake up in the morning, how we feel while sitting on our sofa — those are the things that set the tone for the day and the mood of our lives. How we feel in our homes seeps into how we function in our own lives.” Also, he says, “Your home should tell a story about you.”
Haggerty recently expanded Pillow Talk’s interior design services and product lines, which now include lighting and furniture from local, national and global sources.
Alana Grimstad is an experienced, award-winning journalist, writer and photographer based in Santa Fe who loves to meet interesting people and is honored to share their stories.