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A Guild of Colour

Last month I was bemoaning the fact that nothing much happens in the interior design industry in August, mainly because the whole of Europe seems to think it’s their divine right to down tools and go on holiday for the entire month, regardless of the impact on anyone else. As if to back this up, only this morning we had the national sales manager of one of the French design houses in the showroom, who simply couldn’t believe that we (or to his further astonishment, anyone else in England) didn’t close down in August.

September is when things really start to get going again. From a client’s point of view, the kids have gone back to school, it’s no longer the weather to be in the garden much, and peoples’ minds turn to sprucing up the home. It’s now that we designers begin to hear the perennial question “Can you get it done for Christmas?” From the industry side of things, all the major manufacturers launch their autumn collections, many at the industry’s premier UK exhibition Decorex, the rest at their Chelsea showrooms to coincide with the exhibition.  As all this happens at the end of September, no matter how much I drag my feet and risk the wrath of the editor, I simply must write my editorial before we go to the shows next week, so I’ll have to keep you waiting until next month to tell you about all the exciting new stuff on offer.

That having been said, for the last few years some of the more canny companies have been getting their new books out to their major accounts ahead of the exhibitions, to try to get in pole position as it were. It’s one such company, Designers Guild, that I thought I’d write about this month. 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 single person 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 LOVE 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. To illustrate this, we’ve just finished a complete refurbishment of a very large main bedroom belonging to one of my long-standing clients, comprising curtains and pelmets, blinds, wallpaper, headboard, bedspread and sofa – almost all of which is from the current Designers Guild collections, and which replaces the Designers Guild bedroom we installed for her some 15 years ago. The result is stunning !!!

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, is that a dirty word?) won’t get on with these products at all, as the finished look is much more eclectic, almost to the point of being 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 that they have successfully re-introduced into the market today. 

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.

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 honoured 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.

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”. Their latest collections exude bold colour and timeless elegance, once again with the flavours of central Asia. There is also a new Royal Collection, which simply has to be seen (and handled of course) to be believed.

Tricia Guild is arguably the queen of the interior design manufacturer’s – and long may she reign !!!

John Biddell, John Charles Interiors

Live 24 7 magazine editorial - October 2014