Crea­ture com­forts

Chick­ens, rab­bits and mon­keys are no longer just for the nurs­ery

Country Life Every Week - - Interior Design The Inside Track - Giles Kime

THE menagerie of an­i­malthemed dec­o­ra­tions on th­ese pages over the hol­i­day sea­son was no pass­ing fes­tive fad. Furry and feath­ery crea­tures are here to stay, on ev­ery­thing from fab­rics and wall­pa­per to ceram­ics and cush­ions. For cen­turies, a taste for an­i­mal forms has ebbed and flowed in in­te­rior de­sign, most re­cently in the 1960s, when Casa Pupo on Lon­don’s Pim­lico Road fed an ap­petite for life­size ce­ramic Afghan hounds. Along with flokati rugs and beaded cur­tains, they were an es­sen­tial in­te­ri­ors ac­ces­sory for those free spir­its not wed­ded to a life of Laura Ash­ley and Habi­tat.

The new gen­er­a­tion of an­i­ma­lin­spired de­signs is dif­fer­ent—they have a charm and naïvety more akin to il­lus­tra­tions in chil­dren’s picture books than the dec­o­ra­tion of a fancy Span­ish ha­cienda. Ex­am­ples are ev­ery­where: Beatrix Pot­ter-es­que rab­bits on tex­tiles at Thorn­back and Peel, lap dogs on the ceram­ics of Fenella Smith and scam­per­ing hounds and foxes in the work of COUN­TRY LIFE’S Emma Mccall.

An an­i­mal-in­spired artist who is lead­ing the pack (herd, pride, flock…) is Holly Frean, whose sim­ple but highly ex­pres­sive paint­ings and ceram­ics have gained at­ten­tion from the Amer­i­can fash­ion and in­te­ri­ors gi­ant An­thro­polo­gie and Kit Kemp, the cre­ative force be­hind ho­tels such as the Whitby that opens in New York next month. Most re­cently, Miss Frean has been com­mis­sioned to de­sign fab­rics and wall­pa­pers for An­drew Martin, pop­u­lated with li­ons, tigers, gi­raffes and ele­phants, that are aimed at adult draw­ing rooms rather than nurs­eries.

Is there a fash­ion el­e­ment to all this? The fact that there is cur­rently a par­al­lel in fash­ion—namely, Gucci sweaters, Valentino bomber jack­ets and Marc Ja­cobs shoes em­bla­zoned with ev­ery­thing from tigers to mon­keys—would sug­gest so.

No doubt, as I write, there’s a break­out area in a trend-fore­cast­ing con­sul­tancy full of peo­ple cooking up catchy new ter­mi­nol­ogy to cap­ture the new mood (‘neo naïve’, ‘menagerie chic’, ‘zo­ol­ogy zeit­geist’) and the­o­ries about the fact that it’s a sub­lim­i­nal re­ac­tion or re­sponse to some­thing or other (the tech­no­log­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion, global warm­ing, Brexit). How­ever, in the mean­time, the rest of us can en­joy th­ese de­signs for what they are: ut­terly be­guil­ing.

An­i­mal-themed dec­o­ra­tions were no fes­tive fad

Plates by Holly Frean (above), as well as her Mis­chief col­lec­tion for An­drew Martin (above right).

A lamp­shade by Thorn­back & Peel (top right) and a hound by Emma Mccall (be­low)

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