I saw a green, floral patterned sofa in a Florida thrift store about two years ago, and I’ve been unable to put in out of my mind. So, when I buy a new sofa, it’s not going to be plain, or neutral, it’s going to be upholstered in a gorgeous floral patterned fabric. And don’t say I’ll get bored of it, or it’ll go out of style, because there are plenty of much more important/dull decisions that need to be made based on what I’ll be doing in ten years, so I might as well have fun when it’s a only a sofa. I’ve long been a lover of Scandinavian fabrics, especially the botanical ones on a dark ground, so the colour jumps out at you – the absolute cream of the crop is Swedish designer Gocken Jobs’ bright and beautiful flower prints, actually rather more like botanical drawings than the usual stylised Scandinavian style, and slightly weird in its choice of flora (rhubarb anyone?). I’ve yet to find anything that comes close in my price bracket, but a lengthy search did throw up some other beauties – not all of them upholstery fabrics, but good for curtains, cushions etc – that are pretty reasonable. My absolute top tip, if you’re a sucker for higher-end Nordic brands like Marimekko but have no cash, is to get yourself to Ikea; its fabric ranges have all the graphic punch and occasional forays into surrealism, but at much nicer prices (it’s also often the quietest place in the whole shop, useful if you’re suffering from Ikea Stress Syndrome). Here are my finds; and if anyone can find me a Gocken Jobs-alike for under £70 a metre, let me know….
Eivor Leva, £7/m, Ikea
Cherry orchard by Marianne Westman, £28.94/m, from New House Textiles
Rhubarb, by Jobs Handtryck, £143/m, Skandium
Amalfi Ofelia by Sandberg, £71.50/m, Tangletree Interiors
Spira Haga, £29.95/m, Hus & Hem
Kvitter blue, £22.95/m Hus & Hem
Walker Greenbank (which owns big-name wallpaper/textile brands like Sanderson, Zoffany and Morris & Co) has just launched a ‘youthful’ new brand called Scion. ‘Youthful’ in this context seems to mean graphic, Scandinavian-inspired prints and lots of bright colour, although that is pigeonholing it somewhat as there’s pretty much something for everyone in its first collections – Melinki, which concentrates on print and pattern, and Plains, which are, er, plain. I’m hoping that the brand is aiming to become a sort of Top Shop of the textile world, taking the best designer pieces and turning them something more accessible and less expensive, retaining the sort of quality you’d expect from its umbrella company. 100% cotton prints start at £25/m and wallpaper from £30/roll.
Berry Tree wallpaper
Lace wallpaper/Mr Fox fabric curtains
I don’t know how I managed to miss these lovelies at Tent London during London Design Festival, but I put it down to being all bleary-eyed from looking at too may good things. The Colourhouse (an interior designer and a costume designer) launched themselves into the world in September with a small range of sweet, simple, colourful textiles. The standout for me is this ‘Be Lucky’ fabric, and with all those horseshoes and four-leaf clovers you’ll be sure to have Lady Luck on your side (although the less said about those lonely single magpies the better). Made and printed in the UK, too.
Here’s a scheme inspired by a great picture from one of my new favourite things, How to be a Retronaut, a cavalcade of visual fabulousness dragged from the archives (I can’t really explain it better than that, have a look though, it’s brilliant if you love social history and totally addictive). Its ‘…in colour’ series is the first thing I click on, and features rare early colour photography of everything from New York in the 1940s to Egypt in the 1920s. Nothing transports you directly into the past than old colour photography and some of the colours and textures are so unexpected; I think my brain thought that everything was actually black and white in history. I can glean more design inspiration here than in any glossy magazine, and this pic of Russian girls, taken from a set shot in 1909-15 seems right for autumnal plummy colours. I love their sombre expressions and stiff deportment (I guess you had to hold pretty still then) especially compared to their exuberant clothes. I was going to cast my shopping net a bit wider here but Zara Home was my first port of call and it pretty much nailed it, so hurray for that.
Clockwise from top left: Flecos blanket, Melia bread plates, Filigree cushion, Cameo tableware, Wayne stool, Rombo jug, Gardenia tray, Velvet cushion, all Zara Home
The April edition of the homes mags are full of nice springy things and I am particularly taken with the combination of yellow/turquoise/lilac that to me says painted easter eggs, blossom, flowers and everything else that heralds a bit of sunshine finally coming our way. Temper with some darker colours – brown, navy or dark grey – so you don’t end up with girly pastel madness. Here’s a mood board I put together, largely based on House of Fraser’s marvellous Libby bedlinen, which has done a damn fine job at out-Designers-Guild-ing Designers Guild (at about half the price, and it’s in the sale at the moment too).
Clockwise from top left: Essentials Allia fabrics, Designers Guild; Sherbet Blooms pom pom cushion, John Lewis; Shuffle table, 95% Danish; Libby bedlinen, House of Fraser; Camden ceiling light, BHS; Devon tumbler, Habitat; Socks Rolled Down tumbler, Heal’s; Grass tumbler, Mulberry Hall; Silk bolster in Fern, John Lewis
If you like MyDeco.com but are a bit sick of your searches returning a load of stuff that has little to do with interiors, or is just, well, a bit rubbish (I always seem to get really bad art, and DIY products – perhaps I’m doing my searching wrong), then make furnish.co.uk an alternative port of call. I came across it a while ago, meant to bookmark it, and then got distracted, and I’ve just re-found it again (when I was meant to be doing some actual proper work, naturally). Proclaiming itself a ‘tat-free zone’, Furnish represents far fewer brands (proof, perhaps, that too much choice can be a bad thing) but as a result it feels like someone’s already done some of the initial filtering for you, and just left the good stuff, and there’s a good mix of high street, like John Lewis and Habitat, well-known brands such as Dualit and Knoll, and up and coming firms such as Dare Studio and Mini Moderns. I hope it stays this sorta size – as Goldilocks would say, not too big, not too small, but just right. Here’s what I found with a quick look (although I could have stayed all day).
Do You Live in a Town? wallpaper, by Mini Moderns
Foscarini Diesel Cage pendant light
String Shelving by Utility
Niki Jones Dove Grey Concentric Cushion from Heal's
Neatly tapping in to the vogue for all things crafty, the V&A’s exhibition for next spring focuses on quilts, something I suspect sounds a bit dull on paper but is actually a very nice experience to see. And the V&A’s ever-brilliant shop will be launching some limited-edition archive fabrics to tie-in: they’re available in one-metre pieces or less, I suppose to encourage people to get quilting. Nature-inspired, they range from the very 1930s-looking ‘Petals’ to a blousy rose design and an eastern-ish Ikat print. Er, I just realised the exhibition’s not ’til next March, so consider this a stupidly early heads-up.