Can a Zebra change his stripes . . .???
And why would he want to anyway? Unlike his cousin the leopard, he’s not really expected to do much in the way of changing.
Stripes as a design have been one of the most enduring and accessible patterns for centuries. They have been successfully teamed with all manner of florals, jacquards, checks and plains to give an added depth to a scheme without creating clashes. They come in both curtain and upholstery fabrics, wallpapers, carpets and of course paint – no, I’m only joking, although there is the yarn about an apprentice being sent off to find a tin of striped paint.
As regular readers will know, the design team at John Charles Interiors get really excited when a new pattern book gets delivered, especially if it contains glorious vibrant fabrics or breath-taking textured wall coverings. Not usually so much so when a new book of striped papers lands. What could possibly be new and exciting in the world of striped papers I hear you (and the design team) ask??? Well, the folks at Cole & Son have come up with the answer – Marquee Stripes.
Before we delve into the collection itself, let me tell you a bit about the company. Cole & Son was founded in 1875 by John Perry, son of a Cambridgeshire merchant. In those days the company was situated in Islington, north London, an area famous for the 190 hand block printing companies working there in the 18th and 19th centuries. Throughout the 19th century Cole & Son printed for all the large well-known companies of the time including Jeffrey & Co, Sanderson and Shand Kydd. In addition to high quality block printing, the company was renowned for supplying beautiful stripes and jaspes.
Today, the Cole & Son archive consists of approximately 1,800 block print designs, 350 screen print designs and a huge quantity of original drawings and wallpapers, representing all the styles from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. Amongst these are some of the most important historic wallpaper designs in the world. Cole & Son has provided wallpapers for many historic houses including Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament. Some of you may remember there was a big hoo ha in the mid 90s when the Lord Chancellor’s office was being redecorated with the original Pugin wallpaper that was coming out at about £300 a roll. I was lucky enough to be visiting the Cole & Son factory at the time, and after having watched in awe as one very skilled man took a whole day to hand block print a single roll, I was gob-smacked that it was ONLY £300 a roll. Anyway, I digress . . .
The Marquee Stripes collection is so much more than just a run of the mill offering of various widths and colours of your bog standard striped paper. It’s an extremely well thought out and comprehensive anthology of stripes, ranging from the traditional Jaspe stripe to the slick contemporary College Stripe – a modern graduated stripe with an ombre metallic element. There are 10 designs in all, including 1 border, that are helpfully split into 16 colour palettes, including a new ‘Ochre’ colour palette - a sophisticated mid-Century palette of warm ochre and creamed buttercup. Other palettes include ‘Powder Blue’ and ‘Hyacinth’, - comprising cool grey/blues along with fresh cornflower and parchment combinations, ‘Charcoal and Bronze’ - a glamourous palette of matte metallics offset by warm, chalky grounds of fawn, chocolate and charcoal for the ultimate luxurious look, and ‘Soot and Snow’ - a warm and contemporary take on traditional black and white, combining the elegance and impact of this customary pairing with a subtle softness.
But here’s the really clever bit. The entire collection has been designed for use as either a stand-alone solitary paper making a high impact statement, or to be paired with figurative papers for a considered, co-ordinated look. And the really really clever bit is that all the new stripes are made to perfectly compliment Cole & Son’s existing beautiful ranges of just such papers !!! In fact they’ve gone a stage further and inserted some fabulous suggestions into the pattern book to get your creative juices flowing.
Come and see if you agree with us that the Marquee Stripes collection puts the Oomph back into the humble stripe. It really does deserve a look.
John Biddell, John Charles Interiors
Live 24 7 magazine editorial - September 2017
All images are courtesy of Cole and Son.