Christmas come early
Firstly, let me apologise profoundly for mentioning the “C” word in September. Regular readers will know that it’s a constant bleat of mine to keep Christmas firmly in December. No, what I mean is that it’s that time of year again when we designers get all excited as we unwrap the new Autumn collections from the major (and some very good minor) design houses.
When the showroom door bell goes, and we see the poor delivery man standing helplessly outside, weighed down by a huge rectangular box, we drop whatever we’re doing (unless we’re mixing paint of course) and hurry to his aid, knowing he’s bringing the new pattern books from either Designers Guild or Osborne & Little and their associated designers. For the following half hour or so you can hear coos, gasps of appreciation and the occasional shriek from the design team, more usually heard from little folk on Christmas morning as they get stuck in to Santa’s fare.
So, what about this autumn’s offerings? Are they coo-able over and up to scratch? Well yes, they most certainly are !!!
As you would expect, the main print collection from Designers Guild is largely floral. Entitled Jardin des Plantes, and available as fabrics and wallpapers, it celebrates the evocative and lyrical art of the botanist. Taking its inspiration from the 17th century explorers and botanists who journeyed to far-flung ends of the globe in search of undiscovered flora and fauna and then recorded their findings with breath-taking accuracy and stunning artistry, the new collection features exquisitely drawn flowers and bouquets, butterflies and birds in a painterly palette on a variety of base cloths, as well as paper.
For me, there a couple of stand-out designs. Aubriet, depicting bunches of summer roses on a soft textural ground, printed on softly tumbled pure linen, and Sibylla, a beautifully drawn evocation of a summer cottage garden with a plethora of flowers and the occasional butterfly, printed on cool, crisp pure cotton. As in some previous collections, Designers Guild have been quite astute, offering 2 scales of several of their fabrics. For example, the main Aubriet fabric has a 220cm pattern repeat which, while stunning, is certainly not for the faint-hearted, whereas it’s sister design Aubriet Lino comes with a much more manageable 75cm repeat. Before we move on, I just have to mention butterflies (there, I mentioned them). Charonda and Issoria are companion designs featuring exquisitely drawn butterfly specimens, the former on a crisp cotton, and the latter on a smooth velvet. Issoria is also available as a delightful wallpaper. Also new from Designers Guild are Majella, a rich and inspiring collection of silks, and Forsyth, a sumptuous collection of tweed effect weaves and soft velvets.
As Osborne and Little launched their own flagship collections in the spring, the autumn is largely kept clear for their stable mates Nina Campbell and Matthew Williamson.
Nina’s main offering this season is a collection of beautiful papers and gorgeous fabrics called Coromandel. Drawing its inspiration from different continents and periods of history, it exudes a truly international flavour. Available as a fabric only, Mardi Gras conjures up the flamboyance of a Caribbean island festival, whilst the duel offering (paper and fabric) of Pavilion Garden depict an enchanting scene of elegant sari-clad ladies in a blossom-laden garden. My personal favourite though is the title design Coromandel (apparently a region on the south east coast of India). The fabric is a sumptuous embroidered trail of Jacobean origin, given a modern interpretation using metallic yarns on contrasting linen grounds. The paper is similarly rich, given a striking depth of both colour and texture by the use of mica and metallic inks.
Closely linked with Coromandel is the Gioconda collection of glamorous curtain and upholstery fabrics. The title fabric Gioconda is a mid-scale velvet spot, which teams up nicely with its namesake in the wallpaper collection, a splendid flock (yes, you heard me correctly, a flock !!!). Vignola is also a show-stopper. Named after the 16th century Italian architect, the fabric is an ogee trellis using a metallic thread on a contrasting ground, while the paper utilises thousands of tiny beads to great effect.
The fashion designer Matthew Williamson is now an established contributor to the overall story of Osborne & Little, the Durbar collection being his forth collaboration with them. Matthew’s collection of fabrics conjures up images of India with a vibrant, contemporary twist. Signature colours including cerise, teal, turquoise and jade are combined with calm tones of linen. I must say now that this book extracted the most number of Oohs and Aahs from the John Charles Interiors design team when we first opened it. Ranging from the linen print Aravali, depicting a stylish landscape of rolling hills and forests populated with horsemen and wildlife, through the crisp and stylish embroidered taffeta Jali Trellis, to the blow-your-socks-off Viceroy, a sumptuous damask composed of velvet appliqué and stylised embroidered marigolds depicted in vibrant colours on linen, they are all winners in their own right.
The accompanying wallpaper book doesn’t disappoint either. With the same Indianesque mood and fabulously rich colours, you really are spoilt for choice. There’s the brilliant Menagerie - an ornate fantastical pattern featuring hearts, colourful trailing blooms, exotic butterflies, birds of paradise and mischievous monkeys, the magnificent Mughal Garden – a moody tiger is camouflaged amidst dense foliage in a Mughal palace garden, and . . . but don’t take my word for it, why not come down and indulge your design taste buds for yourself. We promise we’ll love hearing your own Oohs and Aahs.
John Biddell, John Charles Interiors
Live 24 7 magazine editorial - September 2016
Images above or to the right courtesy of Osborne & Little
Banner image and images below courtesy of Designers Guild