Long before my foray into the world of interior design, textiles were really my first love. Even as a child I hoarded small fabric samples. Ten centimetres off the roll at the local haberdashery, fat quarters at craft fairs, all neatly folded and arranged by colour in little baskets that filled up my cupboards! I indulged in everything from sewing to silk painting to screen printing, finally studying Textile Design at university and going on to create sculptural pieces for interiors and fashion. In my work as an interior designer today I still absolutely adore caressing and collecting fabrics (sample storage is still an issue!), and the sourcing of soft furnishings is definitely one of my favourite parts of the job. Updating this aspect of your home can often be the simplest way to transform your space and doesn't have to involve the disruption, time and effort of painting, wallpapering, tiling, laying flooring or installing furniture. A change to cushions, throws, curtains, lampshades, upholstery or bedding can have a big impact!
Just as with the clothes we wear, the fabrics we dress our interior space with matter and their characteristics need to be suitable for their function. Here an interior designer can really help in selecting appropriate fabrics and advise on what the considerations are for window treatments, upholstery or other soft furnishings. Which are the most durable, colourfast, sound absorbing or sustainable? Which degrade in sunlight or attract the most dirt and which may fall prey to moths or mould? Which are inherently fireproof and provide the best insulation? Which drape well and are the most lustrous or which are the easiest to wash? An interior designer will be able to ask the right questions for your space and the way in which you use it, and provide the right answers, seeking out the best fabrics from mainstream brands and independent textile designers.
So here are my top nine names in textiles (keeping it insta-friendly folks!). I could easily write this blog ten times over, but this is a mix of textiles, some printed, some woven, some knitted, some sculptural, that represent those I've loved for years and more recent discoveries. The focus here is mainly on independent studios as there's such incredible talent out there, plus a slight bias towards geometric pattern (a future blog needed on the best florals and daintier designs I think!) They're all fantastic and here's why...
I've long been a huge fan of Margo Selby's distinctive woven textiles, her striking cushions have adorned my sitting room for many years! Combining intricate geometric pattern with a sophisticated colour palette her fabrics have a unique three-dimensional quality, as the mix of spots, stripes, triangles, diamonds and chevrons gently ripple along the lustrous silky surfaces, making for a wonderfully tactile experience. They are eye-catching and contemporary yet simultaneously luxurious, elegant and beautifully crafted. Always innovating, Margo initiates new collections with hand woven concept samples at her Whitstable studio, which are then developed by specialist mills and artisan weavers into a stunning range of textile products from cushions, throws and upholstery fabrics, bedlinen and towels, to rugs and carpets. It's always exciting to see her new creations as well as the projects and collaborations she has undertaken with a range of familiar names from John Lewis and Habitat to Alternative Flooring and Osborne & Little. Simply stunning!
Bold and bright delights! Laura Spring is a Glasgow based textile designer/maker whose perfect patterns bring a pop of colour through her range of homewares, including screen and digitally printed fabrics, cushions, tea towels and lampshades as well as flatweave rugs created in collaboration with FLOOR_STORY. Fabulously vibrant and functional, Laura's designs take inspiration from a variety of sources, yet are unified by her graphic style. I think my favourite has to be Milkky an abstract, playful pattern in gloriously intense hues based on a wooden skittle game she discovered whilst on a residency in Finland. I love its slightly retro feel, whilst still being strikingly fresh and contemporary.
Susi Bellamy's printed textiles bring together art and technology, being based on original paintings and collages created in her Newcastle studio, and digitally transferred to luxurious velvets and silky fabrics. Amongst her beautiful collection of cushions is a striking selection of marbled designs, resulting from her exploration of Florentine paper, which have a gorgeous richness and depth. Their opulent hues and flowing pattern evoke a strong sense of movement as you visualise inks streaking through water to form pools and rings of layered colour. Described as 'art for the sofa' the unique designs sit perfectly with the current interior trend for marble effects and the patina of natural surfaces.
Geometric prints, sumptuous weaves, gorgeous colours, what more could you want?! I love discovering brands that encapsulate everything I am drawn to in design and Claire Gaudion's fabulous array of fabrics and soft furnishings does just that! Established in 2013, Claire's Hampshire based studio develops and samples her collections before they are produced by specialist mills and manufacturers within the UK. Claire is a master of colour, pattern and texture; her designs range from crisp cotton furnishing fabrics with rhythmic, gradated compositions, to super soft cashmere and lambswool throws with delicately subtle weaves, all inspired by the coastal landscapes of the Channel Islands. The exciting new collection of hand tufted and flatweave woollen rugs has been produced in collaboration with HI Rugs and combines rich textures and abstract designs with a colour palette including teal shades, dusty pinks, corals and sage green.
fun makes good
It's easy just to think of print or weave as making pattern, but I love seeing other techniques at play in textiles, especially those that portray their uniquely handcrafted nature. Eleanor Young is the name behind Scottish design studio Fun Makes Good, whose distinctive patchwork interior products include cushions, pouffes, quilts, wall hangings and bespoke upholstery and window treatments. All feature fantastically bold and dynamic juxtapositions of colour, geometric shape and rich textures. Gorgeous linens, wools, leathers and velvets are often locally sourced and fabrics such as Bute wool and Harris tweed are combined to create striking and beautifully tactile pieces. Evocative of Sonia Delaunay's energetic Jazz Age designs, Fun Makes Good's playful pieces are certainly uplifting and if, like me, you believe your home should bring a smile to your face, these are definitely the things to do it. I could gaze at them all day!
Go nuts for knits! Renee Merckx and Jos Pelders are the duo behind Febrik, a Dutch textiles brand producing top-notch knitted textiles for interiors. Supplying designers and architects, their innovative and collaborative approach encourages the use of textiles as an integral part of concept development within the design process, rather than merely a final embellishment. Their eye-popping fabrics have a three-dimensional quality and the playful colours and patterns of designs such as Sprinkle and Razzle Dazzle have a slight Memphis feel. Perfect for upholstery, whether in domestic or commercial settings, the rippling Beans and Summit show the potential of contemporary knits to enliven and bring depth to surfaces within interiors. Utilised on Sputnik's Simone sofa for the fantastically edgy furniture brand Missana, Triangles looks just brilliant. Combined with a plain fabric of similar hue its surface is fully emphasised, pattern formed by structure. Knit-tastic!
Anne Kyyro Quinn
Who says fabrics have to be flat? Anne Kyyro Quinn's sculptural creations were certainly a great inspiration to me when I worked with textiles as I always loved the challenge of manipulating a naturally draping material into a three-dimensional surface, acting contrary to its nature. Establishing her London studio in the late 1990s, Anne has developed an amazing array of often simple motifs which in repeat demonstrate the dramatic impact of pattern conjured by the play of light and shadow on each form, whether in bold or subtle hues. The inherent qualities of woollen felt are harnessed as it is cut, moulded and sewn to create undulating surfaces. Anne's studio produces bespoke pieces for a variety of both residential and commercial interior settings, creating a range of solutions from from large-scale acoustic wall panels to perfect pouffes.
One of my favourite of the big brands, Lelievre are a Parisian textiles company who successfully combine traditional and modern techniques to create fabrics that are at once classic and contemporary. You can find their UK showroom at the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour where thousands of fabrics are displayed, alongside others they supply such as the amazing Sonia Rykiel Maison. The plain weaves are just as enticing as the patterned, with subtle and vibrant hues, and contrasting textures creating relief effects. They are on trend yet in an ultimately sophisticated way; motifs are precise and considered, bold shapes and complex pattern refined by shimmering surfaces and exacting colourways. Luxurious yet dynamic fabrics that are always elegant, never brash.
Founded in 2011 by designer Catherine Nice, Kitty McCall is a range of homewares based on her gloriously bold and explosively colourful prints, which feature on furnishing fabrics, cushions and fun fabric letters amongst other interior products. A kaleidoscopic haze of layered tropical hues and riotous stylised florals form these optimistic and joyful patterns, which bring to mind the work of both Josef Frank, and its portrayal of a lush, bountiful paradise, and the vivid Californian colours of David Hockney by whom Catherine has been inspired. They are utterly gorgeous and a true feast for the eyes! Kitty McCall products are available online and from the store in Folkestone's creative quarter, which is firmly on my 'must visit' list!