Out of the Blue is the latest exhibition at London’s Fashion and Textile Museum. It celebrates the work of the influential design company Designers Guild, that was founded in 1970 by Tricia Guild OBE. Since it’s founding, the brand has evolved into a worldwide company whose products have changed the way we view colour, pattern and texture in our homes.
Frustrated with the lack of truly contemporary fabrics and wallpapers for interiors, Tricia’s vision was to create a lifestyle, by showing people how to put the different elements of a room together, how colour, pattern, texture and form can combine to create a harmonious space.
From the outset, Guild knew she had to show people how to use her products and thus displays and photography of her new collections are vital tools for communicating the total effect. She has produced many books over the years and has emphasized the importance of plain and semi plain fabrics as being integral to the whole Guild look. Their importance were captured by Elizabeth Wilhide the co-writer of Tricia Guild’s new soft furnishings, which was issued six times between 1990 and 1997 published by Conran Octopus.
The fashion and Textile museum is not an enormous venue and yet they have very successfully constructed room sets showing the different styles that Tricia Guild has created across the decades.
We are shown where Tricia’s inspiration comes from – her travels to India, Japan and Scandinavia have all resulted in collections of fabrics, wallpaper, furniture and accessories. Her inspiration may come from ancient Indian Textiles or Renaissance – style velvet or a Swedish Gustavian wall treatment, but the resulting interior collection are never drawn from one source alone. Instead each collection is an eclectic amalgam in which harmony exists between East and West, past and present.
‘I’m passionate about a home being comfortable as well as beautiful. Being surrounded by good design is one of life’s pleasures.” Tricia Guild.
In 1975 Tricia split from her husband and business partner, Robin. Tricia continued with the business, working from it’s original King’s Road Chelsea flagship store, and Designers Guild has flourished. The brand is represented in over 80 countries worldwide with a turnover of over £55 million. From the outset Designers Guild has always maintained its own interior design department, based in its stores at Chelsea and Marylebone. Each project responds to the requirements of an individual client and the architectural setting, whether in London, Paris, Manhattan or Tuscany. The Guild look can be found in a mews cottage or a rood top pied-à-terre, or in period homes and country villas. Tricia’s own homes are often the first place for experimentation with new concepts.
Designers Guild is best known for florals and botanicals, but plain fabrics in a multitude of shades and textures as well as a range of geometrics and abstract designs are also vital to the mix. The exhibition highlights the techniques and processes vital for making the collections happen. In the quest for innovation, the company uses a variety of printing methods from hand block printing in the early days to rotary screen-printing and most recently digital printing.
Throughout the fifty years she has been in business, Tricia has championed and collaborated with artists and designers from other disciplines including Howard Hodgkin, Kaffe Fassett and recently Ralph Lauren and Christian Lacroix. Never shown before, this exhibition showcases the story of Designers Guild in settings that capture the changing tastes in interiors over the last five decades. The exhibition is curated by Dennis Nothdruft. Head of exhibitions at the Fashion and Textile Museum and Textile Historian Mary Schoeser, in collaboration with Designers Guild.
Fashion and Textile Museum : 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF -Exhibition from 14th Feb -14th June 2020
T: 020 7407 8664
Please note the Museum is open Tuesday – Saturday 11am-6pm and Sunday 11am-5pm.
There is an excellent book to go with the exhibition published by ACC Art Books at a cost of £30. Exhibition reviewed by Juliet Bawden