Monday, 16 March 2020

Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue is an exhibition currently on at the Fashion and Textile Museum that is celebrating the work of Designers Guild, a design company founded in 1970 and still going strong today. It was founded by Tricia Guild who draws on colour, pattern, texture and form to create a harmonious space and her signature style is instantly recognisable for its vibrant colour palettes and painterly style.

The first room of the exhibition showcases beautiful hand painted birds and florals. Along with these is a selection of paint and paper mediums that were used to create the birds. It's great to see how important these traditional methods were, and are, still important to the company.

A voice-over by Tricia Guild talks about how the introduction of digital printing has been really useful for the business as it means that you can capture the nuances of colour and texture of hand painted work on the fabric without losing its quality. This is unlike using screen printed techniques where a limit of 18 screens means that you can't often incorporate many tones of colours.

The painted bird sketches were used as inspiration for this final scenic mural in beautiful shades of blue and greens with a hint of pink bird here and there. The colours of the mural tie in with the blue of the sofa and the teals of the velvet cushions.

Tricia Guild's love of nature has always played a large part in the look of the company.

The enormous florals of the 'Le Poeme de Fleurs' collection show how a change in scale and colour can make a radical difference to the final effect. There's a hand painted feel to each flower yet a modernity in the colour palette. Mixed with a mustard yellow vase and vintage rattan chair, the look becomes eclectic and fresh.

Tricia's love of Italy has influenced her designs over the years and she used the luxurious silks from Venice, silk brocades, flocked silk and cut velvet to create a new contemporary elegance in a vibrant colour story. Acid greens sit against hot pinks and vivid turquoise.

She also travelled to India regularly where she came across a plethora of fabrics and got to meet the skilled workers who made them. In the fabrics above she has captured the vibrance of Indian summers as well as the colours of the women's saris. She also used Indian printing techniques, such as block printing, creating a cushion with a gold motif on a luscious turquoise silk. The wallpaper (above right) captures the texture of an aged blue painted Indian wall.

Her style varies quite a bit throughout her career and this can be seen in the two room sets above. They both use shades of green and pink yet the collection on the left (Ornamental Garden) is much more traditional in style than the modernistic theme on on the right.

Plain and semi-plain fabrics have always been an important part of Designers Guild as these fabrics provide relief from the heavily patterned fabrics within a collection. Above, bright woven silks on the left sit amongst sumptuous jacquard velvets on the right.

The creative process can take up to 18 months from start to finish and Tricia Guild works closely with her design team, starting with mood boards and colour chips (above left) to the finished product (above right). As you can see from both images, the integrity of the initial design has been achieved amazingly well in the finished product.

This exhibition is on until 14th June 2020.

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