Fire up your imaginations !!!
Yes, it’s that time of year again that we designers all look forward to – the launch of the new spring collections of fabrics and papers. A couple of weeks ago off we all trotted to London Design Week, to be regaled with many and varied offerings of the weird and wonderful (well, wonderful mostly) from the showrooms in and around the Chelsea Harbour Design Centre.
I’ll be happily bombarding you with all my favourites over the next few months, but this month I’d like to talk about the new collections from Osborne & Little, and their stable mate Lorca. Interestingly enough, they are one of the few major design houses not to have caved in to the pressure to open a showroom within the ever expanding Design Centre. Both they and Designers Guild have stuck resolutely to their lovely showrooms on the Kings Road.
So what delights have they come up with this season? Well, there are a whopping great 10 new collections on offer, several of which tickle my particular fancy a treat !!! I absolutely love all things Art Deco, and its related themes.
The flagship collection, comprising two books – one fabric and one paper - is entitled Fantasque, and consists of a collection of abstract and geometric curtain fabrics, which pay tribute to the artistic and cultural movements of the early 20th century, teamed up with rich and stunning papers incorporating metallic tones of bronze, silver, antique gold, copper and gilver, presented alongside terracotta, turquoise, yellow, ultramarine, sapphire and steel blue.
Apparently, La Boutique Fantasque (also known as the Magic Toyshop) was the name of a ballet conceived by Massine in 1919 for the Ballets Russes, to piano music by Rossini. As I said, the colours are stunning enough, but the designs . . . oh my goodness !!! My out and out favourite is a show-stopper which is actually called Fantasque. Available as a cotton print and the most fabulous metallic toned paper, a sleek panther stalks amongst extravagant Art Deco foliage. This is closely followed by another cotton print and metallic paper combination entitled Chrysler. Here, stylised Art Deco leaves are reminiscent of the spire on the Chrysler Building, a magnificent feature of the New York skyline since 1930.
Mind you, the Fantasque collection doesn’t limit itself to Art Deco. There’s a striking design called Cubiste, which is also available in both fabric and paper, in which rectangular blocks of varying size and colour are painted on the diagonal, in hommage to the Avant Garde art movement led by Picasso and Braque. Amongst other splendid fabrics and papers, there’s a truly lovely paper called Lempicka, in which broken circles depicted in fine lines form a broad stripe.
Under the heading “Not a lot of people know that”, Tamara de Lempicka, the Polish painter influenced by Cubism, was the first female artist to become a glamour star. She found her fame by painting portraits of the somewhat ordinary housewives of the rich industrialists of the day, in which she transformed them into sex goddesses. I love her work, and have a large painting of hers on my living room wall. Of course it’s only a print, but I was lucky enough to see the original when the Royal Academy of Arts held an exhibition of her works in 2004. But I digress . . .
Three of the other new offerings from Osborne & Little team up so well with the Fantasque collection (no surprise there of course), that I’d like to bracket them together for you. Garnier, named after Charles Garnier, the architect of the opulent mid-19th century Paris Opera, is a collection of épinglé, chenille and velvet with an architectural theme, Hespera Velvets, a collection of seven versatile velvets, mostly taking their names from nymphs in Ancient Greek mythology, and Costiera, a collection of sheers and floating curtain fabrics with names taken from the spectacular Amalfi coast south of Naples (known in Italian as La Costiera Amalfitana). All offer the compulsory neutral shades we’ve been so used to in recent years, augmented by rich and beautiful blues, greens and reds. The design that leaps out at me is Astoria, from the Hespera Velvets collection, a dramatic printed chevron alluding to the landmark Waldorf Astoria hotel of the early 1930s. I suppose it would really, as not only is it an Art Deco design, but a few years ago I was fortunate enough to realise a life’s ambition and stay in that very hotel (my lovely wife treated me !!!).
The last new release in Osborne & Little’s arsenal I’d like to mention is a delightful collection of weaves called Ragtime. The latest in their line of collaborations with well-known designers, Osborne & Little have teamed up with Margo Selby, a woven textile designer who produces exceptional quality fabrics, rugs and accessories, which blend effortlessly with both contemporary and classic interiors. The collection pays tribute to the greats of ragtime and jazz with a palette which includes distinctive colour combinations: grape and chartreuse with duck egg, indigo with burnt orange and teal, mandarin with coral and ice.
Before I finish (which will need to be soon, as the Editor gets ratty with me if I go on too long), I must just mention the new season’s releases from Lorca. Aradonis is a typically Lorcan offering comprising a collection of sumptuous fabrics which take their inspiration from the decoration and architecture of the Eastern Mediterranean. Signature colours from the distinctive Lorca palette such as fuchsia, lavender, orange and turquoise are blended with apple, hyacinth, saffron, linen, taupe and black. There is also a lovely book of upholstery co-ordinates called Aradonis Weaves. The designs in Aradonis are all good, but the use of silver thread in the jacquard floral trail of Natalia is an inspiration, and makes it an absolute stunner !!!
John Biddell, John Charles Interiors
Live 24 7 magazine editorial - April 2016