Apple blossom, foxgloves, cow parsley, lilac, magnolia and rhododendron have all been grown in an Oxfordshire garden and were picked at 5 o'clock this morning and lovingly loaded into the car boot destined for Pimlico Road.
Bridgie and Henny have filled antique planters to create wonderful rambling arrangements for Soane's showroom to coincide with the Chelsea Flower Show which opens for the 100th time, down the road at Royal Hospital, Chelsea.
Soane’s roof garden is open during Chelsea Flower Show, 21-25th May and we would be delighted to welcome those of you seeking refuge from the bustle of the Royal Hospital for a drink on the terrace.
Soane Britain, 50-52 Pimlico Road, London SW1W 8LP
Soane Fabrics launched two years ago and the critically acclaimed range can be seen in homes and hotels from Paddington to Palm Springs.
All fabrics have been designed by Soane's Founder and Creative Director Lulu Lytle and are handmade in the UK. The printed fabrics are printed entirely by hand in an old Victorian mill with no machinery or automation involved whatsoever, while the woven fabrics combine hand weaving traditions with the very latest in weaving techniques.
This Spring, we will launch our first collection of wallpapers after seeing our Pineapple Frond fabric used as walling and blinds (left). We are working with a wonderful family-run business in Lincolnshire who block print and hand-finish every paper using traditional printing methods.
Lulu takes inspiration from a variety of sources including antique textiles, ancient clay tablets and even a watermarked fragment of cotton from the 1820s! Below we thought we would share the inspiration behind some of Soane’s most popular fabrics.
Jajim Stripe is based on a Middle Eastern flat weave used as flooring or bed covers. It is woven from 100% cotton giving it a rich density and visual depth. This luxurious cloth glows like the original Eastern fabric which inspired it.
Jajim Stripe is available in three colourways – Chestnut (pictured above), Persian Blue and Duck Egg Blue
Kaleidoscope is inspired by a favourite 19th Century handbag of Lulu’s where the cloth is believed to be an early Turkish weave.
Kaleidoscope is woven in the UK and is available in four colourways including – Berry (pictured above), Sky Blue, Duck Egg Blue and Sepia.
The design for Ottoman Scribe was imagined by Lulu after acquiring a book of antique photographs from North Africa. One of the pictures shows a man reading a letter sitting cross legged on a vegetable leaf carpet against a wall hanging with a calligraphic leaf design.
Ottoman Scribe is hand printed onto a linen base cloth. Available in four colourways including – Eau de Nil (pictured above), Sepia, Raspberry and Gold.
Oxus is loosely based on a 4000-year-old Bronze Age Eastern Persian carnelian inlaid medallion found by Lulu. Soane’s bold, richly coloured interpretation is available in two sizes. Flax, cotton and viscose are combined in this weave making it excellent for upholstery.
Paisley Stripe is a five colour print and was inspired by a 19th Century Persian original that was printed as a single panel onto a luxurious heavy weight linen.
Pineapple Silhouette and Pineapple Frond
Pineapple Silhouette and Pineapple Frond were inspired by an intricate, richly coloured chintz. By removing nearly all of the fine detail and ten of the eleven colours of the original print, we have created two entirely modern designs.
Pineapple Frond is a magnified interpretation of the original fabric. Its gutsty scale is ideal for curtains and the upholstery of large sofas.
Both fabrics are hand printed onto a linen base cloth. Pineapple Frond is available in four colourways including – Indigo (above centre), Watermelon, Ochre (above right) and Olive. Pineapple Silhouette is available in the above four colours as well as Duck Egg Blue.
Seaweed Lace is inspired by a watermarked fragment of fine ivory cotton printed in green, from a French pattern book of the 1820’s. We have developed the pattern as a two colour print using two very similar vegetable dyes to create depth and shading in the design.
It can be printed onto a very fine linen lawn for an ethereal atmosphere as bed hangings or unlined curtains, on fine cotton poplin, which is wonderful as walling and curtains in the manner of a chintz or an upholstery weight Irish linen.
Seaweed Lace is available in four colourways - Indigo, Ruskin Pink, Emerald (above) and Leaf Green Lawn
Tendril Vine is hand printed onto linen, silk, linen sheer and cambric base cloth. Available in four colourways including – Apple & Plum, Walnut & Sage, Mineral Blue and Turquoise & Pomegranate (pictured left)
Turkish Blossom is based on an original from the Chatsworth House sale. Originally, the fabric featured a rich seven-colour print but Turkish Blossom has been significantly simplified to create a more useable timeless design.
Turkish Blossom is hand printed onto a linen base cloth. Available in three colourways – Duck Egg Blue & Dove (above centre), Old Gold and Indigo & Blue (above right)
Wicker is the term used for the product of weaving many natural materials including cane, rattan, willow and raffia. All these plant fibres lend themselves to weaving because once cut into strips and soaked in water they become very malleable.
Rattan is stronger and more durable than most other reeds and the tough, inner core of the fast-growing rattan vine is usually used to make furniture. It is woven around a solid cane frame.
The Egyptians were weaving rushes to make furniture from 1,500 BC and indeed Tutankhamen was buried with his favourite rattan furniture! The Romans adopted plant weaving as a technique to make furniture right across their Empire.
By the 17th Century, wicker was popular in Northern Europe on account of its practicality (bugs could not live in rattan as they could in upholstery) and cost (the plants were cheaper and faster growing than timber – the rattan plant grows up to 6m a year). As trade with the Far East increased in the 18th and 19th centuries, the king of these natural fibres, rattan, was imported to Europe and used and loved for its strength and versatility.
From the late 17th Century, wicker furniture was woven in Asia for European colonists and due to its popularity spread across the British Empire from India and the West Indies to England where the Victorians were captivated by the exoticism and versatility of all woven furniture.
By the mid-19th Century America and Europe (especially Austria and Germany) had flourishing wicker furniture industries and in 1907 Harry Peach (pictured left), an enlightened social reformer with a passion for good design and local manufacturing, founded the Leicester based firm Dryad to produce cane furniture to rival that imported from Europe.
The airy, sculptural and three-dimensional qualities of rattan make it as suited to a bedroom or sunny drawing room as to a garden room or verandah. It is evocative of relaxation and sunshine.
The strength, lightness and durability of rattan has ensured its use in objects varying from hot air balloon baskets to seats for fighter planes, for sidecars for motorbikes to desk furniture for ocean liners from tables and lights to shoes and handbags.
No item is beyond the reach of a skilled rattan weaver, and Soane’s Leicestershire workshop is ensuring that these skills are nurtured and deployed for items varying from simple mirrors, bedside tables, barstools and chairs to 4-poster beds, mechanised screens and life-sized animals!
Recommended reading - Harry Peach : Dryad and the DIA by Pat Kirkham