More is more: deck out your home with all the trim­mings

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

For nearly 20 years, Samuel & Sons has been rein­vent­ing passe­menterie. (For those not in the know, that is the for­mal name for the trims and tas­sels that sup­ply those dec­o­ra­tive fin­ish­ing touches to soft fur­nish­ings.) To do this, the com­pany turned to un­usual ma­te­ri­als and in­no­va­tive tech­niques not seen be­fore in the in­dus­try, such as strongly struc­tured origami-like pleated tapes, over­sized pom-poms or in­tri­cate laser-cut pat­terns on thick bor­ders.

A new gen­er­a­tion of de­sign­ers, for whom passe­menterie seemed deeply old-fash­ioned, all about heavy tie-backs and thick bul­lion fring­ing, started to use these trim­mings in their con­tem­po­rary de­signs. It was a breath of fresh air.

“Sud­denly, we’re see­ing a big demand for bul­lion, skirt and tas­sel fringes. And who’s us­ing it? It’s not the older gen­er­a­tion who al­ready saw it come and go in the Eight­ies. It’s the young de­sign­ers,” says Michael Co­hen, Samuel & Sons’ pres­i­dent.

The fringe is back. On your sofa, your cur­tain pel- mets, your cush­ions and even your light­ing and mir­rors. For that mat­ter, trim­mings in gen­eral are a strong fea­ture of the trend for “more is more” dec­o­rat­ing: why have a plain cush­ion when it can have a pom-pom bor­der, some con­trast pip­ing or ruffly edg­ing?

This is all good news for Samuel & Sons, which is now able to strad­dle two de­sign camps: those who love a crisp con­tem­po­rary look, but still want a bit of tex­ture and dec­o­ra­tive in­ter­est, and those who want some­thing more opu­lent, such as cur­tain pel­mets edged in rope trim. “In a con­tem­po­rary in­te­rior, it just feels so un­ex­pected, new and ex­cit­ing,” says Co­hen. “I think we’re just at the be­gin­ning of the fringe com­ing back.”

The com­pany’s lat­est col­lec­tions in­clude the play­ful Cirque, which fea­tures candy-coloured pom­pom trim and a sim­ple cream linen bor­der with flo­ral em­broi­dery, and Mate­lassé, a range of quilted and em­broi­dered wide bor­ders in graphic pat­terns such as hexagons and chain-links, which are more clas­si­cal and so­phis­ti­cated.

Co­hen partly at­tributes the resur­gence of trim­mings to in­flu­en­tial ho­tel de­sign, and two ho­tel groups in par­tic­u­lar: Soho House and Fir­m­dale Ho­tels. They pay their re­spects to a tra­di­tional look while bring­ing in lots of pat­tern and colour, con­tem­po­rary art and a re­ally sump­tu­ous ap­proach to soft fur­nish­ings.

Samuel & Sons re­cently also sup­plied its prod­ucts to the Annabel’s mem­bers’ club on London’s Berke­ley Square, where in­te­rior de­signer Martin Brud­nizki has cre­ated a fan­tas­ti­cal won­der­land of over-the-top de­sign. Trim­mings edge huge mir­rors and wrap around chair legs, as well as be­ing used on ev­ery plump cush­ion, on cur­tains and tie-backs, and even on the hooves, sad­dle and bri­dle of the rear­ing Pe­ga­sus sculp­ture at the foot of the Ge­or­gian stair­case.

Lucy Bar­low of in­te­rior de­sign firm Bar­low & Bar­low is one of those youth­ful de­sign­ers em­brac­ing trim­mings with a pas­sion. “I’m a lover of the English coun­try-house look, and if you study those rooms, ev­ery­thing will have a trimmed fin­ish,” she says. Her style takes those tropes and makes them mod­ern and ac­ces­si­ble. She’ll use the age-old tech­nique of trimming the junc­tions of walls and ceil­ings with rope braid, but the walls will be a cool graphic palm-tree print, for ex­am­ple.

“We love to in­cor­po­rate trim­mings into join­ery such as wardrobes,” she con­tin­ues. “The builder makes them in MDF in a sim­ple Shaker style, then we put a fab­ric or wall­pa­per on the in­set of the door, and then glue on rope or braid to fin­ish it. It hides the joins, but it also looks smart and pol­ished. Peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ate those lit­tle touches.”

Nicky Mudie of in­te­rior de­sign­ers Vi­o­let & Ge­orge says: “Things have gone from a min­i­mal­ist, pared-back look where ev­ery­thing is neu­tral, to a style which is in­cred­i­bly max­i­mal­ist. Be­fore, we would strug­gle to get peo­ple to go for colour, pat­tern, tex­ture, trim­mings – all the frou-frou stuff – and now they can’t get enough of it. That style comes from a tra­di­tional place but if, say, you use a re­ally bold con­trast­ing colour, or have a rosette in jute rather than silk, it’s far more mod­ern.” Mudie of­ten uses the work of mod­ern passe­men­tier Jes­sica Light in her schemes. Her sweet­shop-like ar­ray of prod­ucts in­clude beaded braid in bright con­trast­ing colours and dip-bleached tiebacks, where the coloured main body of the tas­sel fades away to white at the ends.

Trim­mings also some­times have a prac­ti­cal pur­pose, cov­er­ing up raw edges and im­per­fect joins, and they can also help a small bud­get go fur­ther: a well-cho­sen edg­ing tape on a pair of in­ex­pen­sive cur­tains can make it look like a much more classy propo­si­tion. Con­trast pip­ing gives fur­ni­ture a more tai­lored out­line, says Brian Woulfe of in­te­rior de­sign firm De­signed by Woulfe. “In gen­eral, darker pip­ing works well on more struc­tural pieces such as chairs and so­fas. It seems to un­der­line them, em­pha­sis­ing their sil­hou­ette,” he says. “I re­cently de­signed a liv­ing room for clients in north London who wanted a ‘grown-up’ chill­out zone. I used a pal­ette of warm greys and mush­rooms, in­clud­ing two gor­geous smoky arm­chairs with el­e­gant black pip­ing; with­out it, the chairs would have sunk into their sur­round­ings.”

The pro­fu­sion of brightly coloured fringes and pom-poms around at the mo­ment is aligned with the ex­act same trend in fash­ion jew­ellery, but tra­di­tional passe­menterie is a long way from quick-fix fash­ion. Elab­o­rate hand­made tie-backs are some of the most labour­in­ten­sive com­po­nents in the en­tire de-

Me­d­ina pen­dant, £426, Heath­field & Co (th­e­longest stay.com)

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