A rare treat!!!
Jenna, my head designer, showroom manager and all-round lady that makes things happen (who also happens to be my daughter) and I often say that we have the best job in the world – apart from international rally driver or West End musical theatre star of course. We take people’s dreams and make them into a beautiful reality.
We are lucky enough to work in the middle to upper end of our trade, so get to enjoy and supply some of the most beautiful fabrics and wallcoverings in the world. Whilst all of us here at John Charles Interiors have our own distinctive style and personal preferences, we can of course produce a stunning interior from pretty much any brief, working with the vast array of interior product that is on the market these days.
I’ve said before that we all eagerly await the launch of new ranges, with varying degrees of oohing and aahing, depending on our own particular likes and not so likes. So imagine the level of excitement when a collection is released that not only ticks your own personal boxes, but takes it to a new level. Well, for me Zoffany have just done exactly that !!! I absolutely love anything and everything Art Deco or Modernist, so the new collection entitled The Muse is right up my street. Epitomising the spirit of the 1920s it encapsulates the sophistication and decadence of this exuberant era. The collection is a combination of refined extravagance mixed with hotel luxe – a look that’s currently in great demand.
Just as Orientalism captured the imagination of the era, there is a Far Eastern thread running through the collection. The striking designs, opulent in both colour and texture, are bold and captivating, beguiling and sensual. The colours they have used are a sumptuous palette indeed, distilled down to their original ‘essence’ and based on jewel-like colours found within the Zoffany archive. Temptingly named tones include Vine Black, Rose Quartz and Sahara for fabrics and Malachite, Prussian Blue and Smoked Pearl for wallcoverings. Although the one that most caught my attention was a colourway called Tiger’s Eye, used quite extensively throughout the collection. What actual colour is a tiger’s eye I asked? And who in their right mind wanted to get close enough to accurately find out?
The complete collection encompasses five complementary books: The Muse Fabrics, The Muse Wallcoverings, Oblique Wallpapers, Conway Velvets, Brooks, each book having for me its personal highlights.
Taisho, from the main fabric book, is an exquisite cloth in which lotus leaves have been intricately crafted to create the artwork for this dramatic design. Artisan gilding techniques heighten the natural characteristics found in this organic subject matter, elevating it to a piece of fine art. Taking its name from the Japan’s Taisho era (1912-1926), a time when Japanese aesthetics and craftsmanship fused with western concepts of modernity, Taisho is a digitally-printed cotton mix fabric inspired by traditional Japanese botanical prints.
Brooks is a comprehensive selection of small scale or semi-plain, multi-purpose, jacquards. A book full of really useful fabrics, ideal for cushions, Roman blinds or to cover a footstool. The title fabric Brooks is a versatile, vivaciously coloured small-scale woven fabric named after the iconic ‘flapper’, actress and dancer Louise Brooks. The design was inspired by the works of early 20th century lacquer artists, who combined hammered metal effects with geometric shapes. The fabric is the result of a complex production process, giving the appearance of both beaten metal and inlay. Oblique Wallpapers is a collection of small scale geometric wallpapers embellished with textured ink, metallic and mica, which not only co-ordinate effortlessly with the Muse Fabrics and Wallcoverings, but would not be out of place in many a chic interior.
The Muse Wallcoverings is a truly splendid book !!! It’s simply packed with stunning and really quite eclectic designs. Wray, originally hand-painted on natural linen using dyes, is a superbly delicate wallcovering, where layers of ink have been carefully overlaid to create a serene, ethereal landscape. Mountainous shapes have been given form by the natural ink watermarks, while the gold base heightens the subtle twist of colour in the original artwork. Subtle yet powerful, Wray’s gradual ombré effect evokes a sense of depth and height, an artistic expression of tranquil surroundings, creating idyllic scenery for the interior. My description really can’t do this justice. If you want a wallcovering that’s both stunning and relaxing at the same time, you absolutely have to see this !!! The other show-stopping paper in the collection Conway. This glorious rotary-printed geometric design, with its effective use of matt and metallic inks, is a faithful interpretation of a 1930s weave archive document, and epitomises the decadence of the Art Deco era.
But I’ve saved the best til last. The Conway book is a sumptuous array of figured geometric velvets, from which comes the title fabric. Oh my goodness, what a cloth !!! For any Art Deco fan this glorious cut and uncut velvet, also faithfully interpreting the same 1930s French weave archive document as the paper, simply IS Art Deco.
John Biddell, John Charles Interiors
Live 24 7 magazine editorial - February 2018
All images courtesy of Zoffany.