Pierre Frey has been producing exceptionally strong travel-inspired collections for the past several years, and January’s 2020 collection is perhaps the most impressive yet. Rêveries Orientales features influences from all along the Silk Road. “Ararat Rose” and “Astara Vert” are two ikats from the collection. “Ararat Rose” is a traditional warp-printed ikat, while “Astara Vert” is a jacquard. The designs, drawn from Pierre Frey’s archive, also appear in the colorful “Manisa” pattern.
By Susan Schultz
I’m not sure if it’s prescient or just the way my eye works, but two of three trends spotted at the late winter/early spring markets in Europe are based on travel and large-format visuals. Considering the timing of this issue, when most of us are tucked away in our homes, a look at the beauty offered by the wider world is something to treasure.
Setting the Scene: Wallcoverings
Once the provenance of old-world brands, wallcoverings have made a comeback in recent years. Technology has played a huge role in this resurgence. Wide-format digital printers now output in much finer detail. High-resolution scanning is available to capture more detail from antique and vintage images. Finally, the tools for retouching, reworking and manipulating these large files are now more accessible.
Perhaps the best-known name in wall murals, Zuber & Cie was established in 1797 and may be the oldest surviving wallcovering company in the world. For 2020, the company introduced several new panoramic designs, including “Scène Exotique” (pictures at left).
But for a variety of reasons, and not just the technical ones, wallcovering murals are now widely available in styles ranging from classical to contemporary.
The Mansfield Park collection from Osborne & Little features two mural designs, including “Palm House” (pictured at right), a wonderfully detailed depiction of a Regency-era greenhouse, complete with towering palm trees, climbing vines and variegated foliage, set against white-painted ironwork and a gently ombréd background. The detail on the print is such that shadowing and layering make the flat surface almost look 3D.
Another outstanding example of modern wallcoverings comes from Cole & Son. It recently introduced Seville, a collection based on the centuries-old city founded by Phoenicians that still bears remnants of its long history under many rulers. Shown below is “Hispalis,” which depicts a densely overgrown archway leading to a mysterious beyond.
Armchair Travelers: Patterns
“Exotic” patterns and designs have long been a go-to inspiration source for textile collections, but many brands are digging deeper. What this means is that there’s a stunningly large collection of designs that range from the whimsical to formal, from definitely “ethnic” to “where did that come from” and everything in between.
Paisley is an eternal classic, and de Le Cuona has some of the best designs on the market. The newest addition to their paisley collection, “Victoria” (shown at right), combines a bit of fantastical architecture with the traditional boteh motifs in a wool-cotton woven that uses 14 colors to achieve its richly detailed design. According to a de Le Cuona rep, the pattern development and production took more than four years to get right.
Bargello patterns are in the midst of a mini revival. Dedar recently introduced contemporary takes on this traditional design. In “Fandago” (shown at left in the Jaune d’Or colorway) the typical up-and-down of a flame stitch has been turned on its side with design inspiration from ikat, with the staggered wefts softening the sharp edges. But “Fandago,” in addition to being beautiful, is also technically complex, woven on a special jacquard loom that can handle the 300-per-inch weft yarns required for its unique design.
Nicole Fabre is an acknowledged expert of French textiles from the 17th to 19th centuries, and her extensive archive formed the basis for Nicole Fabre Designs. The line includes flammé, diaper- and awning-stripe wovens, and figurative toiles, florals, chinoiseries, indiennes, and more. Shown below is the contemporary print “Georgiana” on linen, with the antique toile de Jouy printed on chintz (c. 1790) from Fabre’s collection that inspired it.
Another aspect of innovation in textile design and production can be seen in the fabrics themselves. Highly advanced weaves are now possible due to more sophisticated looms coupled with improvements in fiber and spinning techniques. Oftentimes these incredibly complex fabrics (from a production point of view) appear remarkably subtle, while in other cases, the techniques are right there, designed to be admired.
There are a lot of well-known British brands that offer block-printed textiles, and there’s been a distinct uptick in many brands offering micro collections of block-printed fabrics. Hazelton House has specialized in exceptional block-printed textiles for the past 70 years. Nearly half of the designs in its collection are hand block printed. And these are no simple one- or two-color geometrics, but richly detailed, intricately formatted patterns that are becoming increasingly rare even in screen prints. “Borgia” (below) is a classic Renaissance-influenced design from 1929 that the company released in a bright, saturated colorway.
On the other hand, there has been a resurgence in hand-blocked patterns on the market, including new brands that have started working directly with artisans and heritage brands that have gone into their archives to reintroduce, or sometimes reinvent, past patterns. This ancient, hands-on process requires a completely different type of technical expertise.
“Donatella” (below) is a new addition to 4Spaces’ unique collection of 100 percent Trevira CS fabrics. The innovative fabric construction, made on a special machine that knits and weaves at the same time, means it drapes beautifully and works equally well as drapery or upholstery material. This fabric has a bonus design feature: faux moth holes!