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Every piece Soane creates, whether furniture, lighting or fabrics, holds a story, from its historic design influences to meticulous manufacturing by our skilled British craftsmen. At Soane we thrive on exchanging these stories – they capture our imaginations and enrich our daily lives. The Journal offers an opportunity to take these conversations further and delve into other subjects that excite and inspire us. We warmly invite you to share in our musings

Lulu Lytle

Founder & Creative Director

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Duro Olowu for Soane Britian

  • 04 Mar 2020
Duro Olowu & Lulu Lytle
Tuileries Sofa upholstered in Timbuktu Baobab
Soane x Duro Olowu Collection fabric's

The best collaborations spring from a meeting of minds, something that certainly applies to the Soane x Duro Olowu collection. Duro shares Soane’s deep interest in heritage, tradition and fine craftsmanship, overlaid with a joyful, contemporary spirit. It was serendipity, then, that they came together for a new collection of fabrics launching this spring.

Soane co-founder and Creative Director Lulu Lytle had long been a fan of Duro’s work since he set up his first shop in Notting Hill in the 1990s: “ The first piece of clothing I ever splurged on–an amazing navy canvas trouser suit–was from his shop.” A couple of decades later, it was a chance encounter that sparked the collaboration. “I was walking past the Soane shop on the Pimlico Road one evening a while back, and I was struck by the display. It was luxurious and bold, super-chic yet practical and unfussy.” Duro duly posted the window on Instagram, that great bringer-together of the creative world, and a project was born.

It’s a bold new direction for Soane, and an exciting move towards a more graphic, dynamic aesthetic. Duro is well-known for his juxtapositions of patterns and prints: his audacious combinations of bright colours and punchy motifs practically leap off catwalks and the pages of magazines. “It’s his fearlessness of colour that really appeals to me,” says Lulu. “He’s a bit irreverent, and he’ll mix things that break convention.”

Designing the fabrics–two weaves in tight geometric patterns, and two looser, more playful prints–allowed Duro to explore new ways of thinking about combining pattern. “ The joy of designing furnishing fabrics is that there are almost no restrictions on the size and scale of motifs, prints and patterns.” And just as he might mix motifs within an outfit, he recommends doing the same in a room. “You can use these fabrics to mix and match classic pieces of furniture; they will add character and joie de vivre to even the simplest spaces.”

The fabrics show off the impressive range of Duro’s references. The ‘Timbuktu’ woven jacquard design (of which the ‘Koro’ weave is a smaller version) was inspired by the Great Mosque of Djenné in Mali, one of Duro’s favourite buildings. The prints are drawn from a totally different world. “The topiary and foliage in the beautiful gardens of Hidcote Manor, an Arts and Crafts gem in Gloucestershire, was the inspiration behind my printed linen ‘Stencil Leaf’.” My “Regency Swirl” print on linen fabric was inspired by the harmonious and symmetrical proportions of late 18th- and early 19th-century ironwork details on Georgian houses in Bath, which I have always loved.”

Duro’s ability to take ideas from across the world and diverse periods of time and weave them into a new, timeless form is something that has made him uniquely suited to work with Soane. It’s a welcome shot of daring, fresh vision–as Lulu says, “there are no shrinking violets in this collection.” A final word of advice from Duro: ”Be fearless and confident in choices of prints and in mixing them. They will not overwhelm a space, just make you long to return to it.”

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