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

Homes & Gardens - - CONTENTS - WORDS EMMA J PAGE

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, williamye­

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...

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