Designs Come to Life for Recent DI Graduate

Many people don’t realize just how multifaceted the interior design industry is.  Beyond decorating a space and the usual categories of residential design, commercial design, healthcare design, hospitality design and even set design lay many other career paths that hold an important place in the field.

Photo of smiling woman looking at camera. Her name is Chelsea Copitas, a recent DI graduate of Design Institute of San Diego.

Recent DI graduate Chelsea Copitas

Design Institute of San Diego graduate Chelsea Copitas knows this very well. She knew prior to finding a career in interior design that she wanted to own her own business and be her own boss, but it took taking business classes at a community college for her to move on to explore her creative side. “Interior Design was always something I had a passion for,” Chelsea asserts. “After a year at community college taking business classes I realized I was not happy and wanted to pursue an education I was actually interested in.”

Chelsea Copitas toured the campus and knew instantly that DI was the place for her.

After graduating in 2015 from the Fast Track Transfer Program, Chelsea took a month long celebratory trip to India, an experience that would change her life. Upon her return, she gained experience working for both residential and commercial design firms. She then decided to open up her own residential design firm. But her trip to India left a lasting impression that ultimately led her to switch-up her career focus.

Close up of Chelsea's design hand-carved into wood blocks

Close up of Chelsea’s design hand-carved into wood blocks

“I have always been fascinated by the details of design,”

Chelsea shares. “My true love for textiles really began in India after I graduated.” During this trip, Chelsea got to experience first-hand how textiles were created by touring a textiles studio in Bagru, the handblock printing capitol. “This really spoke to me and I knew I wanted to be a part of creating textiles.” Also in Bagru, Chelsea made some great connections in the textile industry, connections that proved to be integral to the shift of her business three years later.

Textiles studio worker measuring and cutting Chelsea's fabric for pillow cases

Textiles studio worker measuring and cutting Chelsea’s fabric for pillow cases

Currently, Chelsea has two unique pillow designs being produced in India, and she expects to begin selling them around the time this article is published. Working closely with a manager in Bagru who oversees various vendors, Chelsea sends her detailed drawings along with the dimensions of the pattern details, pattern repeat and pillow size. The hand blocking process is rather fascinating, as Chelsea explains it: “First the wooden block is hand carved from the drawings. Sonia [the manager] will then send me samples of the fabric with a pattern repeat for approval. Once approved the production of the pillow will start.”

A textiles studio work meticulously adds the print to the fabric using the carved wood blocks

A textiles studio work meticulously adds the print to the fabric using the carved wood blocks

The first step of production is hand-dying the fabric with natural indigo dyes.

Once soaked, the fabric is laid out in the fields to dry naturally in the sun. Afterwards, the pattern is added by dipping the wooden block into the dye and carefully imprinting the fabric. “From sketch to final pillow case, it takes about 8-12 weeks,” Chelsea explains. “It is a slow process but every detail is worth it as everything is hand done. I receive a completed pillow case including details such as tassels, hidden zipper closure and hang tags. I work with a different local vendor for the pillow inserts.”

Textiles studio worker completes one side of pillow case square with pattern

One square down

Ultimately, Chelsea would love for her business to grow into a storefront and workshop, allowing both trade and non-trade members to purchase goods. “Designers [would be] able to come to my studio and buy bolts of fabric, wallpaper, any textiles necessary for their projects [and the public would be able to] purchase smaller goods and accessories such a pillows, throws, bedding, and more.”

She admits to being slightly fearful of taking the leap into textile designing, but knows it was meant to be. “Honestly, at first I was scared. This is something I am putting my heart and soul into and there was that small thought in the back of my head that no one would like my designs. However, pushing through those fears and using them as motivation has helped keep me going.”

Shot of two pillows with blue pillow cases sitting on a throw and stool. Pillows are covered with Chelsea's design

Both of Chelsea’s designs the finished pillow cases

Close up of the detail of Chelsea's pillows

Close up of the detail of Chelsea’s pillows

Newly engaged, Chelsea credits her fiancé for inspiring her and helping her focus on transitioning into a textile designer.

She also credits her DI education for providing her with the knowledge necessary to carry out her vision. “Going to DI made it very clear to me that there are so many career paths you can take with interior design; it is all about finding your personal passion. I have been very grateful for the community at DI and the connections I have made.”

You can follow this budding textile designer at or on Instagram at @cbcdesignstudio. We are thrilled to follow along and watch her textile line grow.