There was no Paris Deco Off this year, COVID-19 put a stop to that. The otherwise unique walk through the streets of Saint-Germain des Prés, Rive Gauche, Rue du Mail and Rive Droite, full of small but nice expositions with the latest fabric collections of the European éditeurs, was unfortunately a party that had to be cancelled. Marc Geysen presents his first column about interior textiles.
Curious as I am, I could not resist looking up the éditeurs myself, albeit via digital means, email or telephone. Fortunately, over the years I have built up a good connection with most of the éditeurs’ press officers, so that I could look into the latest creative lines of their collections in peace.
Water Colour Designs
What is striking is the éditeurs’ kindness towards each other. Numerous subjects can be found in most collections, of French, English, Spanish or other éditeurs. For example, there is a strong increase in ‘Water Colour Designs’. You know what I mean: watercolour brushstrokes, flowers painted loose from the hand and colours flowing into each other, without any contouring.
A second trend is ‘Geometry’. Casal, Jim Thompson, Kirkbydesign, Jab, Casamance, Lelièvre, … everyone has this geometry in their sample books. We see this trend on wall coverings, decoration and furniture fabrics. Here and there, Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondriaan and other non-figurative artists are present in the designs. In terms of technique, we also see some embroidery or ‘épinglé’ velvet.
Classic ethnic motifs
In my search for novelties, I come across an abundance of classic ethnic motifs. We go back to the origin and that is not surprising, we have been decorating our fabrics with oriental drawings for centuries.
‘Tree of life’, Byzantine and Oriental stylism bring references to elements from nature. Fauna and flora are depicted in a stylized way. If you are a connoisseur of this material, you sometimes come across beautiful stories. These classics still adorn our interiors, but they are also frequently found in new fabrics.
The next new trend I call ‘Abstract Painter’. By this, I mean design structures that remind me of artists such as Pollock, Malevich and many others. They are improvisations, compositions picked straight out of the studio and worked into a woven or printed fabric. Insignificant patches of colour, interlocking strange motifs and a random colour palette characterize the whole.
Nature always wins
A number of other things also stand out. ‘Nature always wins’ remains a truism. Nature prevails in the new collections too, and the harvest is large. Flowers, leaves and even entire forests can be admired in the sample books.
‘The power of flower’
In contrast to the stylized motif, still practised in the Middle East, here, nature is drawn as it really is, almost photographically. But if stylization is used, it is with a contemporary approach and nature always remains clearly visible.
Beautiful flower designs can traditionally be admired with designers such as Designers Guild, Manuel Canovas or Nina Campbell, but there are also other designers who take this route: Arte, Casamance, Prestigious Textiles, Thibaut and Jab.
Not only flowers and woods, but also lots and lots of foliage are on offer. All kinds of things recur: palms, bamboo, beech, the Monstera or Hole plant, … A veritable, sometimes slightly stylized jungle is presented to us, which is sometimes depicted very real and natural.
Structures and textures
I don’t need to tell you that the largest number of designs in ‘Small pattern’ are the structures and textures. Everyone has a ‘Texture collection’. A lot of attention has also been paid to the fantasy yarns, bouclé, flammé, chenille, doupion, etc. as they are omnipresent. In this segment, ‘Natural look’ is a must. Cotton, linen and wool or lookalikes are the most commonly used materials.
The colours are subdued and earthy, ‘non-colours’ reign supreme, although here and there a ‘multi-colour’ makes an exception. The pattern design is minimalistic. With a simple line or a panama weave you can go a long way. Here and there, more complicated or jacquard-like textures pop up to create the illusion of fantasy yarns.
If we go back in time, we come across, among other things, ‘Toile de Jouy’, a printing technique that came over from India. Christophe Philippe Oberkampf, a French German, founded the first textile printing house in Jouy en Jesas, near Paris, in 1760. Just like in India, they printed scenes, carved in wooden blocks, on a canvas fabric. In the meantime, his nephew Samuel Widmer invented a machine for engraving copper cylinders, and from then on printing went like clockwork: the printed fabric in Europe at that time appeared to be a fact.
After centuries of woven motifs, there was suddenly a new technique that gave the world of fashion and interiors a whole new twist. The Toile de Jouy became so popular that the most popular paintings by French artists François Boucher and Jean Honoré Fragonard, as well as Dutch masters from the 17th century, were translated into prints in red on white or in blue on white. In those days, even erotic scenes were printed on canvas. It is striking how the genre still has great appeal today, with not only classical motifs, but also contemporary scenes.
Wildlife is a theme that is sneaking into the collections. Is this done out of love for animals? Or is it rather a reminiscence of the cave drawings of Lascaux or Altamira?
Since at least 15,000 years before Christ, we have been drawing animals on our walls, it is in our genes, and we still do it today. Elephants, zebras, giraffes, lions and tigers, exotic birds, fish, butterflies … you name it. Clarke & Clarke, Canovas, Jab Anstoetz, Jim Thompson, Thevenon and many others have very beautiful wallpaper prints of all these animals and fish.
In conclusion of the most important themes in the collections of the éditeurs summarized above, I would like to mention that I have the impression that some éditeurs transferred some parts of their 2020 collection to the 2021 collection. The reason is obvious: the pandemic.
In general, however, I notice that most of the éditeurs have the same themes. This also means that a lot of people have played it safe and you cannot blame them for that. In any case, I expect it will be some time before we discover a creative outsider and/or innovator.
Marc Geysen: a short introduction
Marc Geysen (Image: Lieve Blancquaert) is a man who has more than earned his place in the world of textiles. Marc is the inspirer of the Bruges based Colornation and design agency C-Desk, works as an independent designer for the most prestigious brands in Belgium, France, the UK and Italy, is an expert in the design of various types of interior and decoration fabrics, and enjoys international recognition as a trend watcher.