Storytime at Decorex 2017

Decorex is renowned as London’s premier interior decoration event, and its aisles are populated by the cogniscenti of the interior design world searching for new ideas.
Revisiting the show I was excited to see that Decorex is encouraging smaller design companies to exhibit, and rather than sticking them in a dingy corner of the show, they are interspersed amongst the established brands.

Fanny Shorter, for instance, has a beautiful collection of hand printed linens, bold in colour and exquisitely drawn. Not for Fanny the current trend of photo-montage and digital printing, hers is a truly personal collection of designs inspired by the stories of Gerald Durrell and the island of Corfu.

Story telling is also part of Newton Paisley’s collection. Designer Susy Paisley is a biologist who has used her drawings to create a collection of prints that highlight the plight of endangered species. Glorious depictions of tropical creatures and plants printed on linen serve to preserve wild habitat through her collaboration with the World Land Trust. 


Baker & Gray‘ s collection is inspired by the lifelong travels of designer Sarah Baker. Prints and embroideries are derived from family heirlooms and plants forms from the African continent. Reminiscent of raw, untreated cloth the linens have an earthy elegance that harks back to a bygone age.

Smaller design companies have historically been limited in their collections by the prohibitive cost of print production. The evolution of digital printing has somewhat alleviated this problem, with shorter minimum print runs and the opportunity for affordable multi-colour printing.

It is, however, gratifying to see that the art of hand screenprinting is still very much alive and championed by small design companies. March & May handprint their collection of small scaled graphic printed fabrics in their Sheffield studio. Bicoloured or monochrome designs are all hand printed to order.

Designer and ceramicist Laura Hamilton is one of the Justin Van Breda Showroom’s new additions. Again these designs are inspired by a life well travelled, depicting plant forms of the Caribbean in their simple,pared back drawings, hand printed onto linen.

One of the more refined examples of digital printing in Decorex were the wallpapers of Boho &Co shimmering hummingbirds and delicate plants climb the wall reminiscent of traditional chinoiserie papers. The colours are get my contemporary, and the temptation to over design using digital artwork has been cleverly avoided.

One of the new companies launching at Decorex this year was Hunt & Hope not a print in sight, this company has rediscovered the art of traditional needlepoint and given it a fun twist. Camouflage and animal skin patterns are stitched by hand to commission ready for use on cushions, ottomans and accessories. A refreshing new approach to a traditional art.It is refreshing to see these and other small businesses thriving in the tough world of the interior decoration industry.

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A niche in the sun

A recent sojourn in France made me appreciate all those little corners of tranquility in our still unfinished renovation project. Despite the uneven surfaces, occasional damp, and never quite straight or square architectural idiosyncracies of a French farm house, I do love revisiting those little corners so often suffused with sunlight.

There is a constant pattern of evolving decor in our little house, and these changes are often led by new finds from the local French Brocante markets, or objects collected on country walks. We started by painting everything white in an attempt to rid the house of the ‘beige, dust and tobacco’ colour scheme of the previous inhabitants! Major construction work has necessitated minimal decoration until now, but we are constantly seeking inspiration  for that next exciting phase when we actually get to add more colour to the space. Drawers full of colour chips and wallpaper samples have built up over the years and files of inspirational magazine cuttings and colour reference images show our changing tastes over the incredibly long journey to this point. We have moved from minimal white to ‘holiday home’ colours; lobster pink, mediterranean blue, apple green. These have given way to natural clay paints, traditional ‘French grey’ woodwork and antique whites contrasted with a rich metallic sheen bronze wall covering, deep red walls and raw pink plasterwork in our cosy dining room, inspired by an ancient flocked velvet picture frame.

 

I was delighted to find that the Paint and Paper Library has been relaunched with a whole new gamut of colours, what bliss, a whole new opportunity to re-colour our house!

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Paint and Paper Library. New colour card

 

The card is made up of two distinct palettes, for easy use. The top half is of what they call ‘Architectural Colours’, essentially variations on the theme of white, these are designed to complement the 85 ‘Original Colours’ by either simply moving down the column of colours for monochromatic schemes, or by contrasting with a diagonal shift across the spectrum.

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Our bread oven serves as a perfect wine store and cookery book shelf.

Our kitchen has a fantastic old brick dome bread oven as it’s feature, it holds a pretty constant cool temperature and we use it to store wine and soft drinks, not chilled, but cool to the palate in the summer months. We have been searching for a soft, but contemporary white to complement the natural exposed stone, I think we might just find it in this collection, the architect’s emulsion is matt, flat and washable; perfect for a busy country kitchen.

Our house is overrun with mini corners of curiosities, collections of heart shaped stones, seeds or dried leaves, boxes full of pretty birds nests, brocante finds and odd shaped pieces of wood or branches. It would be easy to clutter the house with all this, so we are on a strict rotation, rearranging  and sorting with every season, and each time we rediscover our treasures it’s like meeting up with old friends.

 

In an attempt to keep as many original features as possible in the house, we have retained the original windows and doors where possible. Decades of paint have stories to tell, and I love the way that the old drips and layers of paint are apparent even through our top coat of gloss. I’m sure interior decorators will be throwing up their hands in horror, but I’m proud of the rustic story behind our walls!

One of my greatest pleasures is the transformation of a very dirty old attic into our spacious bedroom, the quality of light is pure bliss, and we have deliberately kept the space clean and open. However I am tempted to bring a little warmth to the colour scheme, and love the Paint and Paper Library’s combination of cool teal ‘Spur’ with the warmth of their ‘Plaster V’, so maybe a little area of warmth in the bedroom might be a good move with the next decorating splurge.

Paint & Paper Library
Paint and Paper Library