A LIFE IN COLOUR

Step inside the vibrant world of Wil­liam Ye­oward and dis­cover the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind his in­te­ri­ors

Homes & Gardens - - CONTENTS -

Renowned de­signer Wil­liam Ye­oward takes us through his spec­tac­u­lar in­te­ri­ors, brim­ming with his pas­sion for colour.

FLAVOURS OF PROVENCE

Here a burst of rich colour brings a ray of sun­shine to an open-sided 18th-century barn deep in the English coun­try­side. This set­ting has been cre­ated for a sum­mer lunch and fea­tures Provençal over­tones for a hol­i­day feel – the idea is that there is noth­ing like a bit of or­gan­ised chaos to evoke a re­laxed and con­vivial party at­mos­phere.

The reds and or­anges of the old bricks in­spired this vibrant colour scheme, while the eth­nic tex­tiles, with their lovely earthy tones, add vis­ual in­ter­est.

My de­sign mantra is to have one foot in the past, one in to­mor­row and some­where in be­tween you will find to­day. Ig­nore the past at your peril.”

For more than 30 years, Wil­liam Ye­oward’s store on Lon­don’s King’s Road has been renowned as a source of in­te­rior de­sign in­spi­ra­tion. Packed high with his range of crys­tal, fur­ni­ture, fab­rics and ac­ces­sories, the sheer ex­u­ber­ance of the colour on show has re­mained a con­stant fea­ture through that time. This au­tumn Wil­liam has brought to­gether a decade’s worth of in­spi­ra­tion and in­sight in the form of

Blue & White and Other Sto­ries, a new book de­tail­ing what drives his pas­sion for colour and where it be­gan.

“It was when my par­ents let me dec­o­rate my bed­room,” re­mem­bers Wil­liam. “I’d al­ways had a love of colour, but that was when I re­alised just how much it meant to me. I painted it in a com­bi­na­tion of blue and brown and it was prob­a­bly aw­ful but, even so, it was the first time I truly ex­pressed my­self us­ing colour and it was fan­tas­tic.”

So why call the book Blue & White? “Well, you could say my trade­mark colour is blue,” says Wil­liam, “but I do love all colours and this book is a cel­e­bra­tion of that. My in­spi­ra­tion comes from all around me. I’m al­ways snap­ping pic­tures, which might be of a sim­ple tiled floor or a plate of food or The din­ing ta­ble is not only used for en­ter­tain­ing, but dur­ing its down­time it be­comes a dis­play plat­form.

The greyed oak ta­ble (left) is based on the one that I grew up with as a child, while the ce­ramic wa­ter­ing cans are in­spired by 19th-century French zinc de­signs. Grouped shapes al­ways look best in odd num­bers, so choose three or five rather than the dead hand of even sym­me­try. When used for en­ter­tain­ing (above), the din­ing ta­ble is dec­o­rated with a pineap­ple – a tra­di­tional 18th-century sym­bol of wel­come – to cel­e­brate gen­eros­ity and hos­pi­tal­ity.

This is an enor­mous draw­ing room which, fol­low­ing my very own guide­lines for cre­at­ing a good party set­ting, is di­vided into seat­ing groups, each with a slightly dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter. The pal­ette is a grey-blue and the look is tai­lored and smart. At the end of the room is a fire­place group­ing (below) where the at­mos­phere is colour­ful and in­for­mal. Greys and blues and lit­tle touches of mole and greige are punc­tu­ated with red to sur­prise and de­light the eye. There’s a touch of hu­mour here, too, in the book­shelves with ran­dom piles of an­tique tomes. This is also an ob­ject les­son in hang­ing paint­ings on a pan­elled wall – the frames should be sim­ple so as not to com­pete with the pan­elling. a scene. I also buy fur­ni­ture and fab­rics as in­spi­ra­tion for my prod­ucts. I have cup­boards full of fab­rics, some that I’ve had for more than 20 years. I might take the colour from one, the tex­ture from an­other and find a way they can be combined as ideas for tex­tile or cush­ion de­signs.

“Cre­at­ing this book has given me the op­por­tu­nity to com­pile pages with a mon­tage of im­ages of what are es­sen­tially my life’s plea­sures, and I’ve re­ally en­joyed that.”

A PHI­LOS­O­PHY FOR CRE­AT­ING A HOME

Wil­liam rec­om­mends a par­tic­u­lar ap­proach for any­one set­ting out to find their own in­spi­ra­tion for the home they want to cre­ate. “First work out who you are and how you want to live. It’s my phi­los­o­phy. So for me, com­fort is the key to liv­ing well and there­fore I bring it to the fore of ev­ery­thing I de­sign. I make sure that my pieces are prac­ti­cal as well as el­e­gant but al­ways, al­ways com­fort­able.”

The homes, rooms and fur­ni­ture por­trayed in Wil­liam’s book range in size, mood and colour, but they all ex­press his de­sign ethos, whether in a coun­try cot­tage or a modern ex­ten­sion. “There needs to be con­nec­tiv­ity in a home; from the ar­chi­tec­ture work­ing with the use of a room, to each

A soar­ing ex­ten­sion was this owner’s clever so­lu­tion to cre­at­ing more fam­ily space in a ven­er­a­ble Ge­or­gian manor house. My brief was to bring warmth and glam­our to the modern set­ting.

When there is a wall of glass with a gar­den view, the in­te­rior has to be in har­mony with the great out­doors. The tex­tures and colours of pol­ished gran­ite and old stone sit in beau­ti­fully with the green­ery, while splashes of orange bring the in­te­rior to life. A study in black and white with a touch of spice: the curvy con­sole ta­ble in ebonised oak with a mar­ble top (left) is a per­fectly pro­por­tioned ad­di­tion to this mag­nif­i­cent space.

Good con­tem­po­rary de­sign is more suc­cess­ful when it works in har­mony with an his­toric aes­thetic.ó

De­sign, of course, is only an opin­ion, and this hap­pens to be mine.ó

I’ve in­dulged my­self with a ro­bust mix of geo­met­ric, flo­ral and spotty pat­tern in my coun­try bed­room. Matchy-matchy is a kiss of death to me. Once you have cre­ated a scheme that is pleas­ant to be in, you be­gin to un­der­stand the im­por­tance of com­fort­able seat­ing. I am lucky enough to have a work­ing fire­place in my room, so seat­ing pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity for bliss­ful loung­ing with a book or to lis­ten to the ra­dio. The chest of draw­ers (below) has been treated with a dis­tressed white rub to achieve a soft, been-around-a-bit grey. part of the home work­ing to­gether for the owner. I also think homes should have an el­e­ment of sur­prise. For ex­am­ple, one of my favourite rooms in the book is a glass ex­ten­sion to a Ge­or­gian Manor house. It’s a modern space on a pe­riod dwelling, but it is still warm and makes a bold state­ment. How­ever, if the dec­o­ra­tion had not worked with the ar­chi­tec­ture, it could so eas­ily have be­come unloved.”

There are plenty of other ex­am­ples in Blue & White where orig­i­nal think­ing has trans­formed a space, such as a din­ing ta­ble used to dis­play art, en­sur­ing the cor­ner it sits in is never for­got­ten or ig­nored.

Right now Wil­liam is fac­ing a per­sonal in­te­ri­ors chal­lenge, over­see­ing an ex­ten­sion to his own home. “I know that it has to work with the rest of the house, but it also gives us a chance to look at things di≠er­ently. We will be mix­ing old and new pieces to­gether to cre­ate a look for to­day. I love com­bin­ing items from the past with those of the present.”

THE CRE­ATIVE FORCE

Wil­liam says he’s come re­alise that “all de­sign is opin­ion and what I de­sign hap­pens to be mine. So I now de­sign for my­self. I be­lieve oth­ers will like what I do, but it is lib­er­at­ing to no longer worry about how it will be re­ceived. “There comes a point when you work in de­sign – es­pe­cially when peo­ple like what

you do – where it be­comes very easy just to carry on as you are,” says Wil­liam. Cus­tomers may look at what you’ve cre­ated, like what they see and ask for the same, so there is al­ways the temp­ta­tion to con­tinue in the same vein. But that way lies bore­dom and even­tu­ally dis­sat­is­fac­tion.

“I re­alised that break­ing out and do­ing some­thing di≠er­ent could make me feel re-en­er­gised,” says Wil­liam, “so I launched new fur­ni­ture un­der the Col­lected range and it did. Our cush­ions have been a great suc­cess and we have now added rugs to the col­lec­tion, but I’m al­ways look­ing for­ward to what can come next.”

Wil­liam reck­ons he spends about 70 per cent of his time on de­sign­ing new col­lec­tions; with the re­main­ing 30 per cent he finds other out­lets for his in­ter­ests and in­ven­tive­ness. One of th­ese is the Screw Can­cer char­ity he started, which in­volves cre­at­ing an app to help can­cer su≠er­ers man­age all their per­sonal in­for­ma­tion.

“There are times of the year that are in­cred­i­bly busy, es­pe­cially when I’m work­ing on new col­lec­tions with my team, but re­ally I never stop hav­ing new ideas,” he says. “This book was one of those ideas and my hope is that it helps peo­ple un­der­stand and en­joy my de­sign phi­los­o­phy, but also en­cour­ages them to look afresh at the colour around them in their own lives. It’s so im­por­tant.”

This kitchen is in an ex­quis­ite dwelling on a moun­tain­side in Corfu, which sits at one with the sur­round­ing land­scape.

I re­call many happy meals sit­ting at the sim­ple wooden tres­tle ta­ble. The metal chairs were thrown out by the lo­cal hos­pi­tal and have been made more com­fort­able with cush­ion pads.

Blue & White and Other Sto­ries: A Per­sonal Jour­ney

Through Colour by Wil­liam Ye­oward (Cico Books, £30). Pho­to­graphs by Gavin King­come, Wil­liam Ye­oward and Chris Ever­ard.

To find out more or do­nate to Screw Can­cer, visit

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