Let’s hear it for the girl !!!
There are precious few household names in the world of interior design. A particular designer seems to have the preferred look for a period of time, and then is quickly forgotten. This month I’d like to talk about a lady who is truly the exception to the rule.
Nina Campbell is one of the world’s most respected and influential interior designers. Her list of clients (the Duke and Duchess of York, Ringo Starr, Rod Stewart and the Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge to name but a few) and design expertise is unparalleled. Renowned for her contagious wit and brilliant sense of style, her designs appeal to both young and old, and sit well in both contemporary and traditional interiors.
Her enthusiasm and interest in design and interiors was developed when, at the age of nineteen, during the swinging sixties, she went to work for John Fowler at the prestigious Sybil Colefax & John Fowler. Shortly afterwards she set up her own decorating business, where one of her first commissions was to design a castle in Scotland and Annabel’s private members’ club, Berkeley Square, London, in her unmistakably elegant and rich colour palette. Further developing her business, Nina opened her interior design offices and studio where she still creates beautiful fabric and wallpaper collections, internationally distributed by Osborne & Little.
Over the last three decades I’ve regularly used her delicate and yet sumptuous fabrics and wallpapers, to the pleasure of many a client. This autumn’s offering is most definitely up to her usual high standard. Comprising 3 fabric and 1 wallpaper books, it’s a delightful mix of the light and airy, and the rich and exotic.
In the main fabric and wallpaper collection, entitled Ashdown, Nina captures the essence of woodland walks and the English country garden, in prints and embroideries on linen or linen-mix grounds. The designs effortlessly combine timeless elegance with a country style in Nina’s signature palette. The name is taken from Ashdown Forest, an area of outstanding natural beauty in the county of Sussex.
Whenever I write about a particular collection I’ve usually got a favourite that I leave until last to mention (dramatic effect darling !!!), but this collection is just bursting with such fabulous and eclectic designs that I really don’t know which I like the best !!!
Chelwood, available as a fabric and wallpaper, is a floral garland of wild carnations painted in bright blues or greens on ivory, or white flowers on aqua and dove grey, and is archetypally Nina Campbell.
Ashdown Stripe fabric is an exuberant, painterly floral, inspired by artwork for a cushion design from the 1920’s.
In Benmore, Asplenium ferns (no, I didn’t know what these were either) are depicted in watercolour to create an elegant all-over design. It looks great as a fabric, and absolutely stunning as a wallpaper.
However, if I’m pushed I’d say first prize has to go to Michelham, an informal array of floral sprays including fan flowers, violas and pansies, embroidered on a crisp linen. It’s on the front of the pattern book, and with good reason. Not only is the embroidery delicate and detailed, but the use of colour is simply outstanding !!! Available in 3 magnificent colourways – soft aquas and blush, gorgeous teals and red berry shades, and the most elegant mix of eau de nils and greens that I’ve seen for a while – it gently whispers “Pick me”.
The second fabric book in this autumn’s offering is called Marchmain, and takes its name from the fictional Lord Marchmain in Evelyn Waugh’s novel, Brideshead Revisited. The decadence of a bygone era is evoked in this collection of richly coloured velvet and chenille woven designs, inspired by textiles from the 20s and 30s. Although comprising of only 4 designs, there really is something here for anyone who is a fan of this genre (and my goodness, that certainly includes me !!!).
Brideshead Damask is a rich, textural, antique-look damask, woven in sumptuous chenille, available in 6 gorgeous colours.
Sebastian and Flyte are the 2 beautiful accent fabrics of the collection. In Sebastian, horizontal zig-zag shapes in loop and cut pile velvet are arranged in a vertical stripe, while in Flyte, jewel coloured velvet hexagons form multicoloured stripes, interspersed with vertical zigzags.
But the showstopper, and oh what a showstopper, is the title fabric Marchmain. It is the most glorious, luxurious and tactile jacquard fabric, featuring stylised exotic flowers and leaves, woven with a contour effect on a soft chenille ground. Every time I pass the book, I stop to stroke this fabric.
To complete the autumn offering Nina has released a book of textural plain and small-scale upholstery weaves called Charlton. More often than not, when a manufacturer launches a book like this it is, to say the least, a bit ordinary. It may contain a couple of noteworthy fabrics, bulked out with a few “also rans”. But not in this case. Oh no, the Charlton collection provides the perfect complement to the more patterned designs in Ashdown and Marchmain, as well as to many of Nina’s recent collections.
The interlocking squares in Rodmell form a small-scale check, inspired by a crewel work document, while the circular ripples in Rushlake, created with colourful twisted yarns, are a joy to behold. These are certainly 2 stand-alone fabrics.
Amberley is a sumptuous, tactile plain, reminiscent of lambs’ fleece, in natural colours of taupe, ivory, dove grey and camel. However, the title fabric Charlton is a totally gorgeous plain chenille with a wavy texture, available in nine rich colours, which would happily grace any sofa.
So there it is, the latest offering from a lady who could well be considered the queen of interior design – and long may she reign.
John Biddell, John Charles Interiors
Live 24 7 magazine editorial - October 2019
All images copyright Nina Campbell / Osborne & Little.