Made in Britain
Peter Gomez tells us what inspires Zoffany, we choose the best new fabrics and wallpapers and Giles Kime discovers what’s chic for chalets
Peter Gomez Fabric and wallpaper designer
It was the discovery of old wallpaper fragments at temple Newsam in North Yorkshire— some of which dated back to the 17th century—that inspired Zoffany, the company that breathes new life into beautiful historic designs, as well as creating those that are exciting and modern.
When Edward Wood, the future Earl of Halifax, sold the house and its Capability Brown-designed parkland to Leeds Council in 1922, it was stripped of its paintings, furniture and fixtures. Several decades later, in the early 1980s, designer Humphrey Boyle discovered forgotten remnants and established a small hand-screen printing workshop nearby to re-create some of the historical wallcoverings.
these formed the basis of the ‘temple Newsam Collection’, which was launched in 1984. It was an instant success and Zoffany established a name as a world leader in the art of reproducing lost fabrics and wall coverings.
At the time, Zoffany’s founders recognised a demand from decorators and architects for high-quality, off-the-shelf wallpapers based on heritage designs. their approach was to analyse historical production methods, build up a library of documentary samples and reproduce them for a contemporary market.
‘It’s a process we very much carry on today,’ explains head of design Peter Gomez (pictured here with the studio’s new Holkham Bay wallpaper). ‘the success of Zoffany is our ability to update these designs. We have the provenance of the document archive, which we draw inspiration from, but we’re a young studio with forward-thinking ideas: it’s a lovely mix.’
One aspect that has never ‘progressed’ is the company’s focus on hand-painting or hand-drawing designs. ‘We very rarely use computers,’ says Peter, who studied screen printing in London after a childhood largely based in Gibraltar.
the studio is based in Denham, Buckinghamshire, where there is a team of designers, but Zoffany also brings in freelancers to work on projects. ‘Instead of using trained textile designers, we work with artisans, as we want them to excel at what they do,’ explains Peter. ‘For example, a mural artist won’t be fazed by a large canvas and won’t be distracted by thinking about how to convert the work into a wallpaper or worry about repeats—that’s our job.’
the collection today falls into two styles: a city look in which fabrics might have more lustre and designs be more subtle and a country-house style that’s more relaxed and informal. However, says Peter, ‘as they all come from the same colour lines, they’re very adaptable.’
‘We have a big international following. It’s something to do with the blend of working with historic documents and updating designs—it lends Zoffany a gravitas that’s appreciated throughout the world.’