Spring is sprung . . .
Banner image courtesy of Designers Guild
Designers Guild – Majolica Cornflower fabric
Designers Guild – Montelupo Birch fabric
The grass is riz, I wonder where the birdies is???
Well wonder no more dear reader, they are happily ensconced in Designers Guild’s Istoriato fabric – perching on elegant branches of foliage and blossom, emanating from delicate ceramic vases. Istoriato is one of the shining lights in Designers Guild’s Majolica collection, the main fabric book in their spring 2017 offering.
I do love Designers Guild – in fact we all do at John Charles Interiors as regular readers will know. Contrary to what many folks think, it didn’t start life as a guild of designers who all got together to produce some fabulous products, but is a company founded in 1970 by a delightful lady called Tricia Guild, who has I believe one of the most creative minds in our industry. (Thanks Tricia, I’ll have that Fiver now please.)
For me, Designers Guild are the Marmite of the interior design industry . . . and I ADORE Marmite. We tend to find that clients who like anything that Designers Guild put out like pretty much everything they put out, and aren’t particularly drawn to any other manufacturer’s products. When using Designers Guild products, the “rules of engagement” as it were are quite different from more or less any other manufacturer. Those of you who like your rooms matching (sorry, I believe that may be a dirty word?) won’t get on with these products at all, as the finished look is much more eclectic, to the point of looking cleverly thrown together.
From pretty much the moment Designers Guild products hit the market they were hailed as ground breaking. Tricia’s obvious sense of style and her use of colour was a real breath of fresh air. In her early days she was noted for her soft and gentle, yet innovative floral patterns in beautiful pastel shades. Designers Guild were one of the first companies to introduce the painterly style of wallpapers, a genre they excelled in then and have continued to do so over the years. The latest of these is Lustro, a highly usable small scale detailed marbleised wallpaper design in a wide colour palette, ranging from vivid signature colourful shades to naturalistic neutrals with occasional metallic highlights. This is also part of the spring 2017 launch, and has been twinned with Lustro fabric, a similar design digitally printed onto a robust cotton canvas.
2008 heralded a new and exciting addition to the Designers Guild portfolio, with the launch of their Royal Collection, in collaboration with the Royal Household itself. This was truly magnificent – a range of the most sumptuous fabrics papers and trimmings inspired by the furnishings in Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and other royal residences. The launch was pretty magnificent too, with a champagne reception at Buck House, to which I was pleased as punch to be invited. I did blot my copy book a little though, when I took a glass of fizz off the edge of a waiter’s tray, causing him to lose his balance and deposit the rest of the tray’s contents onto Her Maj’s carpet – oops.
Tricia has often gained her inspiration from her extensive travels, resulting in collections based on European decorative art, Italian Architecture, and one of my favourites from many moons ago, a collection of stunning fabrics and papers with a real flavour of the Indian sub-continent. This season’s collection is inspired by the intense pigments and shades found in Majolica ware, and is a cornucopia of digitally printed designs ranging from extraordinary contemporary florals in varying scales, through the subtle marbleised textures we have already talked about, to more classical damasks. Printed on a range of base cloths, the collection is extremely versatile, being suitable for a variety of uses from curtains, blinds and bedcovers, to light and general upholstery.
One of the many things I like about Designers Guild is that Tricia has always stuck with colour, even when the rest of the industry was dulling down in response to “The grey years”. The Majolica collection is no exception. In fact, when we installed it as our latest window display it was as if spring had suddenly come to the Hagley Road. Our spirits were lifted as the light bounced off the gorgeous greens and vivid pinks.
The entire collection is worthy of praise, but I must just mention a few designs which are simply splendid !!! Acanthus, a highly detailed botanical study of flowers and ferns, highlighted (or should that be highlit ???) with soft washes of watercolour, is both crisp and clean. Palissy Grande is a dream-like explosion of summer flowers in fresh tones on a sublime soft buttermilk neutral ground, printed onto pure tumbled linen. But my out and out favourite is the collection’s title fabric Majolica. Available as both a fabric and a wallpaper, this beautiful printed floral design features a wonderful detailed tiled backdrop, overlaid with cascades of brilliant digitally printed flowers.
As is usual with Designers Guild, the print collection is backed up by a sumptuous book of woven fabrics called Murrine Weaves. There is also a comprehensive wallpaper collection, including a couple of superb geometrics to accompany the florals you would expect. To complete the package a whole host of home accessories are available, including fabulous throws and scatter cushions.
John Biddell, John Charles Interiors
Live 24 7 magazine editorial - April 2017
Designers Guild – Strato Cobalt fabric