Tag Archives: fabrics

Geometric, graphic, colourful: Mid Century patterns, at home

Archives: reading press releases for fabric collections that include what are described as ‘archival prints’ prompts me to think about these fascinating hunting grounds for inspiration. How lucky we are (both textile designers and us ‘civilians’? ‘non-designers’? or the more prosaic ‘shoppers’?) that these historical resources are kept for us, ready to be viewed should we decide to take an interest in their subject.

The Victoria & Albert Museum has several archives which are open to the public on request, including one relating to furnishing textiles within in the Art & Design Archive. Here you’ll find records of popular fabrics sold in department stores such as Heals from the 1920s onwards:

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[Image: page from a sample album, Heals, 1922, V&A Archives]

…plus the archives of individual designers including two of my favourites, Lucienne Day and Jaqueline Groag. The current passion for Mid Century design means that 1950s fabric and wallpaper designs by luminaries such as Lucienne Day and Jacqueline Groag and their contemporary Robert Stewart are a talking point once again. The typical ’50’s design includes geometry, inventive colour contrasts and graphic, repetitive patterns: perfect for today’s decorative schemes.

Take a look at these images, reproduced from the V&A archives:

Mainly blues; some pictorial; others graphic:

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And there are patterns in pastel shades:

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Plus ones in those sludgy hues, typical of the 1950’s:

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And some fresh white/green combinations which make me think of stereotypical ’50s housewives with their aprons and Formica-topped tables:

Formica kitchen

[image Picture Post/Getty, via The Guardian online] 

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[All print images, Memory Prints]

Whilst some 1950s fabric designs can be bought by the metre: try Glasgow’s Classic Textiles for a collection of original Lucienne Day and Robert Stewart designs  (recreated with the consent of the designers and/or their estate) sadly not all are currently in production.

But if you like any of these patterns above, it’s possible to order a paper print: the V&A’s prints are available online through Memory Prints, who reproduce these (and many more) onto high quality paper, ready for framing;  a simple way to bring a colourful, patterned piece of Mid Century artwork into your home.

To visit the V&A’s archive click here for more information.

Decorating a cottage hallway; some of the best patterned fabrics

Back to the house, I’m determined to bring in colour: and so transform the walls here from their current dull, battered, beige/magnolia existence:

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Susie Watson‘s deep, rich Ramsbury Red colours the walls of the adjacent room (I’ve mentioned it before here)  and with it in place, the hall colour had to follow. The random mix above includes some icy blues / stone-grey shades both from Susie’s paint chart (the column of neutrals on the left of the picture above) and Fired Earth, with the walls finally painted in Teresa’s Green from Farrow & BallAs the wonderful Ben Pentreath mused the other day, it’s become fashionable in some circles to diss Farrow & Ball paints for their coverage, but their colours continue to be interesting, adaptable and versatile in both dimly lit and bright spaces…

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Next task: choosing curtain fabric to hang in front of the draughty stable-style back door and to bring some pattern and softness to the room (the black and white floor tiles, here and in the room beyond, were inherited with the house). With London Design Week in full swing (now open to the public; catch it till this Friday 22 March, at Chelsea Harbour) it’s a great time to celebrate the best in fabric design from both British and International designers. I’m searching for an eclectic pattern in lively shades:

Interior designer Penny Morrison‘s luxurious fabrics include fabulous patterns and interesting colour mixes for a relaxed, country-living vibe; the designs start life in her studio on the Welsh borders:

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penny%20morrison%20kenil%20pin%20484 Pasha%20484 Sukriti%20BlueRed%20484 Karlstad%20Blue%20Red%20484 pennymorrison_arabella_repeat%20484 Ashok%20natural%20orange%20484 penny%20morrison%20luma%20gre_pet%20484 pennymorrison_mander

All swatch shots above: Penny Morrison

Another favourite is Rapture & Wright: Based in Gloucestershire, their motifs are contemporary and occasionally geometric in nature, and successfully designed to suit all sorts of interiors:

cocoa doves-husk sarafan-skye-8-linen charlbury-cloud-linen aurora-red-linen clouds-red mandalay-indigo cocoa-beach-butternut

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All images: Rapture & Wright 

All the fabrics shown above come in many other colourways, and of course there are other patterns too; take a look and let me know what you think.

Indigo; blue and white patterns, part II

Hot on the heels of Friday’s post about Indigo / Blue and White, comes a brand new fabric and wallpaper launch from Scion.

If you’ve read any of my previous posts on Scion’s first Melinki collection of fabrics and wallpapers, and their subsequent rug designs, then you’ll know I’m a fan of this new British brand, with its great colour combinations and fresh patterns.  

Now Scion‘s second collection has been launched; named Wabi Sabi, the fabrics and wallpapers are inspired by traditional dyeing / production methods including block printing, batik, ikat, and tie-dye. The result: a collection that features a mix of patterns from abstract and geometric to floral, all with a relaxed, informal feel.

Whilst, of course, each design comes in many different colourways, it’s these blue and white ones, with their inky, indigo tones (and, for those who prefer a lighter blue, tones of turquoise and aqua) that caught my eye:

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I Iove the simple spot motif of the Isamu fabric, layered underneath the more angular geometric Loop design (don’t miss the subtle Loop wallpaper on the walls)…

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This group shot shows the new fabrics together…

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…. Whilst the tie-dye effect print of the Shoji fabric below appeals to my (currently repressed) Boho tendencies (curtain on right): surely the sun would always shine through a window hung with these curtains?

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… and the wallpapers are just as vibrant:

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Working with bold patterns doesn’t have to be overwhelming: here the Shibori wallpaper flatters and emphasises the architectural lines of the stairwell:

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Wabi Sabi printed fabrics are from £26 a metre; wallpapers are £32 a roll, all available in the UK and internationally from March 2013 from Scion.

Emerging Textile Designers, Sofa.com

Whether you are personally involved with textile design or simply shopping for curtain fabric in John Lewis, there’s no escaping how many fabrics there are in existence.

The constant challenge facing designers, from textile students to global companies, is to create new, original fabrics. Whilst fabric house archives are fantastic for initial inspiration, the new design must push boundaries, whether those are of colour combinations, pattern intricacy or behind-the-scenes production methods, whilst simultaneously remaining a design that we’re going to want to live alongside.

So Sofa.com‘s latest competition is great news: they’re celebrating the best emerging textile designers with their current competition to choose a fabric design that will become one of the latest upholstery fabric options for their sofas, chairs, beds and footstools.

Alongside the main judging panel, there’s also People’s Vote for shortlisted nominees, giving us the chance to vote for our favourite fabric from their final selection of 15 (plus there’s a chance to win £1000 to spend at Sofa.com)

I’ve narrowed mine down to a shortlist of four, see below…

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Isabel Crossman (above) was inspired by Slim Aarons’s images of the 1960s jet-set…

Natalie Raines (below) also looked to the 1960s, siting the bold yet simple Swedish designs from this period as her inspiration:

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Sarah Victoria Roberts (below) coral-inspired fabric is a repeat pattern in easy-to-live-with modern neutral tones

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Emily Thompson (below) mixes the bold colours of Morocco with motifs sourced the Arts & Crafts and Art Deco movements.

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Which ones do you prefer? You can see all the nominees and vote for your favourite directly on the Sofa.com website here