A LIFE IN COLOUR
Step inside the vibrant world of William Yeoward and discover the inspiration behind his interiors
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.
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