A stitch in mod­ern time

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Interiors -

Craft dec­o­ra­tion is stag­ing a come­back. But for­get dreary doilies, this is a bold new look, says Jo Den­bury

Craft was once a dirty word, says Kit Kemp, co-founder and de­sign direc­tor of Fir­m­dale, the bou­tique brand be­hind the Ham Yard, Soho and Charlotte Street Ho­tels. “It was thought com­mon com­pared with art and dropped away from pop­u­lar­ity, but now there is an au­di­ence again. We want some­thing in our homes that is un­usual.”

Kemp points to this as the force be­hind the rise in em­broi­dery, col­lage and ap­pliqué in in­te­rior de­sign. But for­get old-fash­ioned flo­rals and del­i­cate doilies – this is bright, bold and brand new.

At the new Ned Ho­tel in Lon­don, Soho House’s joint ven­ture with Sy­dell Group, the bed­rooms have been dec­o­rated with pat­terned soft fur­nish­ings, from the four-poster bed canopies to hand-knot­ted Afghan rugs. In one of the main event spa­ces, the Ta­pes­try Room, the top half of the wall is em­broi­dered on all four sides.

While the Ned’s look is tra­di­tional, Kemp has cre­ated a whim­si­cal in­ter­pre­ta­tion of na­ture and mytho­log­i­cal crea­tures in her ho­tel schemes. Felt ap­pliqué an­i­mals and trees adorn over­sized wool head­boards, while din­ing chairs, so­fas and lamp­shades are decked out in colour­ful pat­terns.

“Re­peat­edly I re­turn to my love for the loom and em­broi­dery,” says s Kemp. Hand-crafted pieces “ap­pearar im­me­di­ate and of the mo­ment, which makes a room more ex­cit­ing and alive”.

For the past 10 years, Kemp has worked closely with Fine Cell Work, rk, a char­ity that helps re­ha­bil­i­tate pris­on­ers by train­ing them in paid, d, skilled needle­work. Prom­i­nent de­sign­ers such as Kemp, Ben Pen­treath and Daisy de Vil­leneuve draw up the de­signs, which are em­broi­dered into prod­ucts by the pris­on­ers, who are paid a third of the re­tail price of the item – re­gard­less of whether it sells. Hand­made cush­ions, quilts and tote bags are avail­able to buy on­line, and there is a pop-up shop open un­til July 2017 in Pim­lico Road, where you can also com­mis­sion larger pieces such as head­boards or stools.

A ma­jor sell­ing point of these pieces is their in­di­vid­u­al­ity, and this is par­tic­u­larly true of Dorset-based de­signer Eleanor Gould­ing’s work.

A pain­ter by train­ing, her com­po­si­tion is un­planned, giv­ing the fi­nal prod­uct a mis­matched, nat­u­ral feel. She calls it painting by stitch.

“I keep a daily sketch book,” says Gould­ing, “but when it comes to stitch­ing the cur­tains I put the sketchbooks away and al­low the work to be in­tu­itive.”

Her new col­lec­tion of cur­tains is all hand-em­broi­dered in a range of coloured silks on nat­u­ral raw linen, avail­able at Den­man & Gould. “Part of their ap­peal is the amount of time that has gone into each cur­tain,” she says. “Hand-stitch­ing is some­thing that can take a very long time.”

If em­broi­dered cur­tains feel like too big a state­ment for your first step into stitch­work, try smaller fur­nish­ings in­stead. Naomi Paul’s lamp­shades are hand-cro­cheted from a se­lec­tion of soft, coloured £39, by Gra­ham and Green (gra­hamand green.co.uk) £325, by Tom of Hol­land (thenew crafts­men.com) £95, by Pen­treath & Hall (fine­cell­work. co.uk) £3,200, by He­lena Lynch (lit­tle­blood.co.uk) Egyp­tian cot­ton. The ma­te­rial is milled and dyed in Italy and then knit­ted into cord yard in Lan­cashire be­fore ar­riv­ing at her East Lon­don stu­dio. Paul’s work mar­ries ar­ti­san skills with sculp­tural light­ing to cre­ate prod­ucts that are beau­ti­ful and have a prac­ti­cal use as lamp­shades.

Each one is hand­made; a stan­dard pen­dant shade can take up to 40 hours to make, while a com­mis­sioned piece can take up to six months. Paul shows that in­tri­cate needle­work and pat­tern de­sign doesn’t need to be over­whelm­ing. “I am in­ter­ested in ex­plor­ing quiet ob­jects and the ways in which they can be both highly crafted and vis­i­bly func­tional but also re­main sub­tle and un­der­stated.”

From cou­ture to cush­ions, fash­ion­able hand­i­craft has worked its way on to the high street. Toast has a range of over­sized han­dap­pliqué cush­ion cov­ers, made in In­dia in col­lab­o­ra­tion with a fair trade or­gan­i­sa­tion, for £95. Gra­ham and Green’s sum­mer col­lec­tion in­cludes ap­pliquéd “character” cush­ions in­spired by Frida Kahlo, avail­able for £39, while An­thro­polo­gie is al­ways a safe bet for all things tex­tured and tufted.

If you pre­fer the make-do-and­mend men­tal­ity as an art form then look to Tom van Dei­j­nen, known as Tom of Hol­land, whose vis­i­ble mend­ing pro­gramme seeks to counter “fash­ion’s throw­away cul­ture”.

A self-taught tex­tiles prac­ti­tioner, he works pri­mar­ily with wool and turns “old, im­per­fect” items into stylish prod­ucts for new own­ers. His blan­kets, with their neatly darned holes in con­trast­ing thread, are pop­u­lar as sofa throws.

Get­ting itchy fin­gers? Try your own hand at craft­work at Sel­fridges, where van Dei­j­nen and other mem­bers of the Bri­tish mak­ers group The New Crafts­men will be lead­ing work­shops as part of the pop-up A Home For All, on dis­play un­til June 9.

Le­gendary: a felt ap­pliqué head­board and em­broi­dered cush­ions at the Whitby Ho­tel

Light up: the Blith­field Ross­more Indigo lamp­shade is £250 from Fine Cell Work Pineap­ple cush­ion

Go Dutch: Tom of Hol­land is lead­ing hand­i­craft work­shops at Sel­fridges

Re­gency can­ing square cush­ion

Em­broi­dered sofa

Vin­tage darned blan­ket no. B05

Frida Kahlo ap­pliquéd cush­ion

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