Lewis & Wood is bringing an exotic new flavour to fabrics
ANEW collaboration between Susan Deliss and the fabric and wallpaper manufacturer Lewis & Wood offers convincing evidence—if ever it was needed—that textile designers don’t stand still for long. The result is Batik, an exotic weave evocative of antique, hand-crafted textiles, in colours inspired by semi-precious jewels. ‘We like doing collaborations—it’s so much more interesting to produce something that has a story behind it, rather than just another floral,’ explains Stephen Lewis, who co-founded Lewis & Wood in 1993. ‘Susan’s approach is similar to ours —she loves colour, warmth, patina and authenticity,’ he explains.
Lewis & Wood has established a reputation for beautifully-made fabrics and wallpapers. ‘As a small manufacturer, it’s a bit like David fighting Goliath in terms of taking on the big names, so, instead of trying to pick up on trends, we follow our instincts and produce what we like,’ he says. Working with creative director Magdalen Jebb, Susan’s original palette of colours was expanded to complement what Stephen describes as its new ‘brothers and sisters’—a collection that takes in an Ottoman-inspired linen called Damascus or their Pugin-esque wide-width wallpaper and Ipek Damask fabric.
Susan started collecting antique textiles while setting up investment funds in Egypt; when the revolution broke out in early 2011, she decided it was time to turn what was a hobby into a new venture. Today, she continues to deal in textiles, many of which she makes into lampshades and ottomans, as well as designing her own range of fabrics and tackling wholehouse interior decorating projects.
Although it’s not a replica or derived from another region, Batik was introduced to sit perfectly alongside Lewis & Wood’s collection of designs that are inspired by Eastern decorative traditions. ‘I really enjoy experimenting,’ she explains. ‘With Batik, I’ve crossed one medium with another, taking a design normally achieved through resist-block printing and using it on a woven fabric.’ As a semiplain, it gives the illusion of an even colour without being ‘flat and boring’, adds Susan. ‘It definitely feels that there is a trend of people being much bolder with colour and pattern these days,’ she explains.
Based in Notting Hill (and a house in the depths of Burgundy) Susan travels the world looking for inspiration. She’s just back from a trip to Istanbul where she bought the entire contents of a car-boot belonging to an Anatolian gypsy. Another recent find was thanks to social media. ‘I recently got a message from a complete stranger. It sounded interesting, so we met in downtown Istanbul and he showed me his 100 metres or so of antique and embroidered linen. I bought it all.’
When it comes to interior decorating projects Susan follows her instincts. ‘You won’t see a spreadsheet. I’m not prescriptive about my approach and I like to find original things that are sympathetic to the house and client.’ This work helps inform her textile design decisions; ‘without actually doing any decorating, I wouldn’t understand what the end-user wants today. It’d be a bit like a career politician who has never had a normal job.’
‘It’s so much more interesting to produce something that has a story
Batik comes in 10 semiprecious-stone colourways. £131.25 per m (01453 878517; www.lewisand wood.co.uk)