STYLE SA­FARI

What hap­penswhen a quintessen­tially Bri­tish wall­pa­per brand­meets a ce­ramic stu­dio pro­duc­ing hand-painted rhi­nos, pel­i­cans and vines in Southafrica? An ex­plo­sion of pat­tern…

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Style | Decorating -

Whatwith­the­wall­sof­buck­ing­ham­palace and the Houses of Par­lia­ment be­ing lined in its wall­pa­pers, it is tempt­ing to type­cast Cole & Son as a na­tional trea­sure of a brand, the em­bod­i­ment of tra­di­tionalenglishde­sign. But the 1875-founded man­u­fac­turer con­tin­ues to seek out un­ex­pected cre­atives and­cul­tures to­col­lab­o­rate­with– an­dits lat­est crossover is pos­si­bly the­most ex­otic yet.

Twoyearsago, the­brand’sthen-cre­ativedi­rec­tor, Shau­naden­ni­son, stum­bledacrossas­mall­dec­o­ra­tive art gallery in New York’s Up­per East Side where she be­came­be­witched­bythe­hand-paint­ed­ce­ram­ic­fig­urines cre­ated by Ard­more, a pot­tery stu­dio based in South Africa, that mixes flora and fauna to great flam­boy­ant ef­fect. ‘Shau­nawas struck by their play­ful­ness, but also bythe­so­phis­ti­cat­ed­nar­ra­tiveon­the­more de­tailed pieces that ex­plored African tra­di­tion­sand­cul­ture,’ the­com­pany’snew head of creative, Carley Bean, says. ‘She thought im­me­di­ate­ly­howwell they­would trans­late in­towall­pa­pers.’

Cole& Son­ap­proachedz­im­babwe-born Fée­hal­sted, who­foundedard­more ather farm­house home in 1985 and has grown thecol­lec­tiveever since, inviting­in­ven­tive and nim­ble-fin­gered lo­cals to the pot­tery toap­pren­tice. Made fromter­ra­cotta, then fin­ished with Amer­i­can Amaco paint (per­fect for paint­ing finede­tai­lon­clay) anda trans­par­ent glaze, theob­ject­shave earnt some­thing ap­proach­ing a cult fol­low­ing – pieces can nowbe found in­newyork’smu­se­u­mo­fart­sand­de­sign or Basel’s Mu­seum Of Cul­tures, and have been de­scribed by Christie’s auc­tion house as ‘mod­ern day col­lectibles’. Last year, Ard­more be­came the first South African stu­dioto­col­lab­o­rate­with­her­mès, which­pro­duced a se­ries of silk scarves in­spired by the de­signs of team­mem­ber Syd­neynyabeze.

It is im­pos­si­ble not to be charmed by the riot of rhi­nos, danc­ing aca­cia trees and elab­o­rate urns

To­pro­du­ceit­sown­col­lec­tion, thecole& Son­pat­tern de­sign team vis­ited Ard­more’s head­quar­ters by the Drak­ens­bergmoun­tains sev­eral times to ex­plore the pot­tery’sarchive, iden­ti­fyre­cur­ring­mo­tifs, and­wit­ness the cre­ative­pro­ces­sofde­sign­ing, throw­ing, sculpt­ing and­hand-paint­ing each­piece. Cole& Son’sde­sign­ers re­drewthe sculp­tures from­scratchto turn­them­into two di­men­sional wall­pa­pers. ‘Then we played with scale and lay­out dig­i­tally, be­fore hand-paint­ing the fi­nal pat­tern,’ ex­plains Bean. ‘ We wanted to in­clude bold, dar­ing colours to of­fer a very dif­fer­ent look, but also not over­look the earth­ier tones of ru­ral South Africa. We were very sen­si­tive to do­ing the ce­ram­ics jus­tice.’ It is im­pos­si­blenot to be charmed by the riot ofrhi­nos, dancin­ga­ca­ci­a­treesande­lab­o­ra­teurn­swith han­dles fash­ioned from­leop­ards’ tails.

‘The Ard­more artists and I have toiled away for 31 years, cre­at­ing fan­ci­ful ce­ram­ics that have pro­vided an­in­come tofeed­many a fam­ily,’ sayshal­sted. ‘It’s an hon­our that Cole & Son wanted to use our de­signs. Work­ing­with themhas been such fun.’ In­deed, since the col­lec­tion’s launch, some ce­ram­i­cists atard­more havethrown­potsin­spired­bythe­wall­pa­pers’graph­ics, which de­lighted Bean: ‘It’s fab­u­lous. It feels as if this col­lab­o­ra­tionhas­come­full­cir­cle.’(cole-and-son.com).

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