Going back to our roots

The use of archive material for fabrics and wallpapers has been a trend which has continued this season with many of the most influential fabric houses turning to their archives for inspiration. I was amazed at how many of these old, botanical, prints can take on a quite contemporary look when re-coloured to appeal to our tastes today.

G P & J Baker have taken the beautiful ‘Ferns’ design which was produced in the 1900s by Joseph M Doran. Produced in 1935 for 12 guineas the design is based on botanical drawings in Curtis’ Flora Londinensis (plants growing within 10 miles of London) between 1777 and 1798. It was such a popular design both in the UK and the USA that versions were reproduced in 1936, 1937 and then again in 1975.

For Zoffany the Gustavus wallpaper collection also takes a lead from nature and pays homage to the Gustavian style of Scandinavia. Core colours of creams, whites, blues and greys are warmed with the addition of earthy reds. The challenge, for the Zoffany design studio, was replicating the quality of the natural materials, inherent in eighteenth century Swedish interiors, for a contemporary market. By using modern printing techniques and rich opaque pigments the studio has captured the authentic textures of natural wood and rough plaster.

Albertine, based on a Drottningholm paper from 1782, has all the characteristics of a French 18th century silk with bouquets of roses set between striped panels intertwined with leaves. In interpreting this beautiful weave into wallpaper, two techniques were used; the stylized background pattern was first block-printed, whereas the bouquets and trailing leaves, evidently hand brushed, would have been painted on afterwards. Two different types of printing rollers were employed to achieve the same effects for the Zoffany Albertine wallpaper.

Since it was founded in 1860 Sanderson has worked with many prominent designers. The 2010 Spring collection has been selected to showcase the creativity and diversity to be found in its archive. One of my favourites, Early Tulips, dates from the 1920s and has been redrawn by the design studio and is now both a fabric and wallpaper. The bold coloured tulip heads are a clear indication that Spring is here.

If you would like samples of any of the fabrics or wallpapers detailed here or if you would like help or advice on an interior or garden project please contact me: Alison Hutchinson Tel: 01529 455048 or 07973 843020.