MOVERS & SHAKERS
From rich 19th-century patterns to colourful mid-century geometrics, fabric archives are providing a wealth of design inspiration. We meet three specialists whose latest collections have been shaped by works of their creative forebears
Fabric and wallpaper specialists have been turning to the archives for inspiration. Here are three designers to discover.
A vast fabric archive has inspired this British designerõs latest rug collection, which brings historical elements to life with a contemporary twist.
How did your work with archives come about?
Three years ago, a friend gave me five volumes of wonderful archive material, comprising 2,500 largely 19th-century fabrics. Some are English and some French, while the provenance of others is unknown. I really wanted to do something di≠erent and that’s when I came up with the idea of reimagining the designs to create a rug collection. I’ve always believed that designers should never disregard what has gone before – there is so much to learn from the work of others. One should be inspired by previous perfection.
How has the material inspired the creation of something new?
The key is to think about how people might enjoy these designs today. Many of them are not that appealing to the modern eye in their original form, but a change of scale and colour makes a huge di≠erence. An original fabric might today make a wonderful wallpaper, rug or even a table napkin instead, so it’s important to think beyond the obvious. In many cases I have altered the original designs considerably, scaling up or down, adding and removing elements and choosing new colourways.
Tell us about the collection that these archives have inspired.
With the increasing popularity of hard flooring, rugs are more important than ever when it comes to giving a scheme definition, so it made sense to bring the archives to life in that way. I’m always very clear about how an archive design can be reinterpreted when I look at it. Colour is a really key aspect: I might see a design in a turgid melon with a dull grey background and know that it would be fresh and appealing in blue and white. I’ve always liked clean colours and natural elements, such as the sky, sand and pebbles, have all played their part in reimagining those designs. We are also working on creating a couple of fabrics from the archive volumes.
Why do you think the new range holds special appeal?
To find a rich source of work that inspires the creation of something new and contemporary is very invigorating. I think that people care about provenance and history as well as British design, so the idea of archive material being reimagined holds real appeal. The collection is a wonderful mix of new pieces and archive-inspired designs. I’ve used the Teide rug in our London apartment, which blends perfectly into my own drawing room scheme. I also love Riviere, which I’ve redesigned with spots, a recurring motif in my designs.
William Yeoward, 020 7349 7828, williamyeoward.com.
CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT The Teide rug in Ruby sits happily in William Yeoward’s London living room, which bursts with expertly matched colour and pattern; natural elements have played a part in William’s reimagining of archive designs, as demonstrated by the Pebbles rug; spots give a contemporary feel to the redesigned Riviere rug; the Teide rug in Woad is inspired by the organic exuberance of a volcano; the Rhoscolyn rug references Welsh beaches; the Penrith rug design was adapted from an antique French screen. ABOVE The tiles of Venetian streets were the basis for the crisp geometry of the Venezia rug.