50 Years of inspiration
Regular readers of my monthly missive will know that while I’m passionate about more or less every aspect of the world of interior design, when it comes to Design Houses I do have a few favourites. Manufacturers who can be relied on to produce not only the best in quality, but who also continually thrill with their innovative and inspiring designs. And pretty much top of the tree are Designers Guild.
Tricia Guild OBE started Designers Guild in 1970, because, she says, working as an interior designer she just couldn’t find upholstery fabrics she really felt excited about, so decided to make them herself. Her first offering was a collection of Indian block printed designs. She convinced her brother Simon, then a full-time banker, to join her and oversee the business angle. And 50 years later they are still running the company together.
Back in the seventies, when Tricia launched her shop in King’s Road, London, there was no real concept of “lifestyle” as we know it today. Her great passion was, and still is, in putting together a style, and crafting a look. To say that she has been successful in doing so is somewhat of an understatement, and probably one of the main reasons I get so enthused. We always tell clients that when you’re using Designers Guild products, the rules of engagement are completely different to any other manufacturer. Forget about “matchy matchy”, and let your creative juices flow in the (not always obvious) direction that Tricia intended. The result may look to some a little, shall we say, thrown together (believe me it’s not – each collection takes many months to develop), but you will end up with a totally stunning room, a real showstopper - somewhere that will draw you to it again and again.
To celebrate her 50 years in the business, The Fashion and Textile Museum in South East London is presenting the exhibition “Out of the Blue”. Running from 14th February to 14th June, it unravels Tricia Guild’s unique and creative approach, focusing in on her inspiration, her intuitive design methodology and the techniques, processes and materials used. Offering unique access to Designers Guild’s archive, with never before displayed original designs and artwork, “Out of the Blue” will showcase the story of Designers Guild, in settings that capture the changing tastes in interiors over the past five decades.
As I said earlier, Designers Guild never fail to come up with something thrilling and fresh. Grandiflora Rose, the new Spring 2020 collection, examines the influence of the early twentieth century garden designers and their innovative use of natural wild planting, pushing the boundaries of style just as their artistic and literary counterparts of the Aesthetic Movement also did. It celebrates two legendary founders of quintessential English country garden design, Gertrude Jekyll and William Robinson (no, not Hyde). Together, Jekyll and Robinson cultivated the use of natural wild planting, and created some of England's most imaginative and dynamic garden scenes. Most notably those of Gravetye Manor, Sussex, where much of the collection’s inspiration is derived. The flowers portrayed, whether native or Oriental in influence, are indicative of an English country garden from that era.
The main fabric book, Grandiflora Rose Prints and Embroideries, is a decorative collection of floral prints, elaborate embroideries and complex geometrics, digitally printed onto soft-brushed cotton, linen and rich velvet, with embroideries on linen union. The fabrics are beautifully and subtly coloured in a selection of earthy tones, from sepia, birch and hemp to celadon, emerald and topaz, with hints of azalea and turmeric.
Chinon Textured Wallpaper is a sophisticated collection of non-woven backed, wide width vinyl wallpapers with naturalistic textile inspired textures and restful shades. From the title design Chinon, emulating the appearance of fine woven silk, to the coarse linen effect texture of Brera Grasscloth, the papers exude a calm elegance. Many have a beautiful matt finish, while some thrill with gorgeous metallic accents. The collection is completed by two very usable and striking geometric designs, Manipur and Parterre.
Manipur is also Designers Guild’s best-selling rich pile velvet weave, and has been updated with twelve new colours that bridge the gap between winter and spring. Comprising perfectly scaled hexagons with a unique woven ground, this stylish cut velvet would make a statement in many an interior scheme, either as fabulous curtains or striking upholstery.
The offering is completed with a range of elegant linen blend wide width voiles, a smart and tailored two-tone textured weave, an easy-clean, hardwearing velvety weave, and a smart-as-you-like pure cotton corduroy.
Although I’m a few years behind Tricia in terms of business experience, I’ve been enjoying her contribution to the world of interior design for the last 37 years, and long may she continue !!!
John Biddell, John Charles Interiors
Live 24 7 magazine editorial - February 2020