Archives for category: Textiles

COVER’s readers are invited to the opening tomorrow of Take Off Your Shoes and Open Your Eyes – a collaboration between Alberto Levi Gallery and Idarica Gazzoni (see COVER magazine Summer 2012). Contemporary carpets from Alberto Levi will be displayed in fantasy room settings enhanced by selections from Gazzoni’s Arjumand textile collections. (cont)

Idarica invite

Each designer is inspired by similar source material. Overdyed recycled silk sari hand knotted rugs from the Aquasilk Collection sit alongside Gazzoni’s new collections including the Deco collection based on ivory and black patterns from Japan as well as the geometric abstractions of Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann.

There are two sites to visit, each a short walk from the other. Alberto Levi Gallery at Via San Maurilio 24 and Spazio Arjumand at Via Santa Marta 11, a marvelous Renaissance courtyard. The opening is tomorrow 10.00 to 2000 hours and the exhibition continues until 15th April (1000-1900 hours). To attend tomorrow contact Carola Galliani. carola AT albertolevi DOT com.

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Mad Men series 6

It’s 1968 in the world of Mad Men. Or so say pundits speculating on the time jump for series six which debuts with a two hour special 7 April (US) and 10 April (UK). Your scribe is unable to watch since cable poached MM from BBC4, so no plot spoilers please. Nevertheless it’s hard to avoid blog speculations on MM6 set design and fashions.

Newsletters from a certain vintage and modern US design site drop into your scribe’s mailbox weekly. Adherence to a blog code not dissimilar to Queensbury Rules means your scribe won’t name the site, but 1) they seem to believe years beginning with 19 refer to the 19th century, and 2) their prognostications for MM6 sets are skewed to the pop end of the design scale. Yes, there will be pop art inspired elements, but your scribe hopes they are curtailed to clothing and the MM office is dressed to emulate textile maestro Jack Lenor Larsen.

Jack Lenor Larsen Mercury textile, 1969, Verel, metallic gimp, rayon, cotton leno weave. Collection Cowan & Tout. Image from Jack Lenor Larsen Creator and Collector by McFadden, Friedman, Stack, Larsen, 2004

Jack Lenor Larsen Mercury textile, 1969, Verel, metallic gimp, rayon, cotton leno weave. Collection Cowan & Tout. Image from Jack Lenor Larsen Creator and Collector by McFadden, Friedman, Stack, Larsen, 2004

Wealth was still largely “quiet” in the 1960s meaning it wasn’t the done thing to crassly broadcast earnings as is now the norm. Madison Avenue ad merchants might wear à la mode madras suits, but office decor would veer to luxe moderne rather than a surfeit of pop art modernity. Larsen’s 1969 Mercury cabin dividers for Braniff International Airways, prioritised materials, technology and technique without sacrificing a richly designed surface. Understanding the “worth” of Larsen designs was a sign of design discernment, and your scribe suggests senior partner Bert Cooper would recognise how Larsen textiles would complement his Asian art collection.

Jack Lenor Larsen Nimbus made for curtain wall windows

Jack Lenor Larsen Nimbus made for curtain wall windows. Saran, polyethylene monofilaments; woven and heat shrunk. Collection Cowan & Tout. Image from Jack Lenor Larsen Creator and Collector by McFadden, Friedman, Stack, Larsen, 2004

Larsen’s innovation-led textiles were appreciated by like-minded clients. Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP commissioned Larsen to design vertical space treatments for Lever House (1952), which coincided with their growing renown as the progenitor of International Style glass curtain wall skyscrapers.

Nimbus – still in production – demonstrates how Larsen’s decision to use the three metre width newly achieved by European textile mills in the 1950s as length, allowed him to dress skyscraper curtain walls from mullion to mullion with a single textile width. Simple idea? Sure. But Larsen was the one who spotted the potential, and it’s this type of irrational creativity that inspires the superlative set designers and writing staff of MM, and they in turn will drive millions to watch Mad Men this weekend. Your scribe thinks it’s time to buy that Sky subscription. DJ

Left hand: Everything Tastes Better with Cat Hair In It coffee mug. Right hand: Pro-Stock Lite Louisville Slugger. Soundscape: Mary Anne Hobbs. Your scribe is ready to open the vault door of the COVER blog archive and flip on the squirrel cage lightbulb. Unauthorised link bait and spam jink like cockroaches. Your scribe is on a mission. Time to tidy. (cont)

Coffee mug, David Bowie and architecture books on The Scribe's desk

Coffee mug, David Bowie V&A and architecture books on The Scribe’s desk

When the sun goes down “smash some windows, make some noise” sings Bowie in the background. Fortunately your scribe is wielding the bat with caution and the vault is windowless, rather the vault crawl reveals COVER favourites from the past like Chevalier Masson’s dérapage contrôlé. CM’s monochrome digital line print on sheer curtains appears to be out of production, but your scribe votes for the line to be brought back. As it’s snowing in London (coldest Spring in fifty years) your scribe covets Chevalier’s Warp fingerless mittens, the better to grip mug and bat, thank you very much. (cont)

Warp fingerless mittens by Chevalier Masson. col. navy - photo:photo: Filip Vanzieleghem Photo: Filip Vanzieleghem

Warp fingerless mittens by Chevalier Masson.100% wool, merinos/mohair.
Photo: Filip Vanzieleghem

Next up in the vault crawl greatest hits is Chae Young Kim. No words needed. Just admire the Knits Unraveled room-set for Lane Crawford. Your scribe spent rather too much time in Lane Crawford on previous visits to Hong Kong, and were she in possession of an AMEX Platinum she would hoover up the lot. The store’s website describes Kim’s “Knitted Room” collection as the outcome of “2-D vector graphics” to “reinterpret the warmth of knitted threads”. It isn’t easy to translate hand-knits to flat graphics, but Kim excels.

Today’s vault crawl ends with Where Can I go?. Well out of the vault until next time, that’s where we go. Archive highlights project continues for the next two weeks. Stop by again soon. DJ

First day of Spring 2013 is achieved, and now it’s almost time for sum, sum, summertime. Blazing glory is three months distant for northern climes, and yes London’s sufferance of summer gloom will likely continue, but nevertheless your scribe is thinking summer madras and madness. Fans of the American television series Mad Men will remember the eye popping splendour of Pete Campbell’s madras plaid suit. Too bold? Too bright? Too retro for now? Wrong. Madras has been a perennial US summer favourite since the Jazz Age (did fictional Jay Gatsby own Madras shorts? Likely), and its legacy is sterling. (Cont)

Osborne & Little Trapani Madras Spring 2013

Osborne & Little Trapani Madras Spring 2013

When Cole Porter sang “only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun” he meant folk like Elihu Yale, i.e. denizens of the Northern Hemisphere who become intoxicated by the Southern Hemisphere’s hot sun on tap. Said to be the first Yank to wear madras, Yale spent 27 years as Governor of the East India Company at Madras (now known as Chennai), India. Local fascination with Scottish tartans is said to be the source for Madras plaid designs. Maybe Yale’s Madras office was decorated with a forerunner print similar to the portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie in a tartan suit which by comparison makes Campbell’s Mad Men madras look rather conservative. (Cont)

Osborne & Little Trapani Madras

Osborne & Little Trapani Madras

Your scribe longs for barbecues with dads in chef hats and madras board shorts manning the poolside grill, but in lieu of that and in expectation of a damp squib London summer, your scribe suggests SAD sufferers, Mad Men fans and Madras aficionados buy Osborne & Little’s Trapani from the Lorca Silk Road Collection. A riff rather than a replica of traditional Madras plaid, Trapani’s colourways include pink and Indian sunshine yellow which will lift spirits in any hemisphere. Whatever the source, Madras has stayed the course through preppy Ivy League alignment, to parody in National Lampoon’s Animal House, to Andy Spade’s recent reinvention of the classic. And so too Osborne & Little’s Trapani is the bright note sun lovers can count on for Summer 2013. DJ

Osborne & Little Trapani

Osborne & Little Trapani fabric

Twelve years before Ulf Moritz was born there was a celebratory summer knees-up at the Bauhaus in Dessau. Georg Muche, Master and Head of Weaving was leaving for a post in Berin, and he and his wife El were guests of honour at a party held in their soon-to-be former home designed by Walter Gropius and furnished by Marcel Breuer.

Casmir by Ulf Moritz for Sahco

Casmir by Ulf Moritz for Sahco. Woven satin and velour ribbons furnishing textile.

A decade later Muche founded the Masters for Textile Art at the Textile Engineering School in Krefeld, and twenty years later a young Ulf Moritz and his mother wandered the halls during enrollment looking for the fashion studio. Instead they found the textile studio and Moritz became one of Muche’s most successful students. Moritz acknowledges the influence of the Bauhaus, but his work transcends the Bauhaus and is recognised as revelatory and innovative. His portfolio includes collections for Sahco Hesslein, and for those like your scribe who appreciate the Bauhaus legacy but prefer contemporary design, Ulf Moritz is the artist you seek. DJ

Tressa by Ulf Moritz for Sahco

Tressa furnishing textile by Ulf Moritz for Sahco Hesslein

Over the river, and through the woods, but your scribe isn’t going to grandma’s house. A visit to the British Museum’s African Textiles Today requires perseverance to cross multiple galleries, wend through crowds, until Gallery 90 is reached by fleet feet up four flights. Don’t be flummoxed by In Search of Classical Greece, cross through this exhibition to discover the African textiles exhibition tucked at the back. It’s not big, but it’s bold, bright and informative. And for your scribe it posed a question. Was Roy Lichtenstein influenced by African design?

Samakaka printed cotton, Angola, early 21st century

Samakaka printed cotton, Angola, early 21st century, photograph courtesy of and copyright The Trustees of the British Museum

Concurrent with the British Museum’s African Textiles exhibition is Tate Modern’s blockbuster Lichtenstein exhibition. Pop art’s pow hit the public in 1962. Lichtenstein, Warhol, Wesselmann, Indiana and Rosenquist all had one-man shows. Lichtenstein famously used newspaper comic strips as his compositional and narrative framework although he was also influenced to a lesser degree by other media.

African textiles & Roy Lichtenstein

Comparison of modern African textiles with Roy Lichtenstein’s pop art oeuvre

Have critics considered whether Lichtenstein, like Picasso et al, was influenced by Africa, particularly African textiles? The term “radical chic” arrived in 1970 when Tom Wolfe used it in his New York magazine feature Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny’s to describe the interaction of above Houston Street denizens like conductor Leonard Bernstein with those who lived below Houston (Greenwich Village etc). Did Lichtenstein similarly seek inspiration or kudos from African motifs as secondary supplement to his adaptations of American mass media? Whether yes or no, the compilation image above shows the visual relationship between the two. Your scribe suggests readers cross the Thames both ways to see Lichtenstein on the south bank and African art on the north, and judge for yourselves. DJ

Raw-Edges say “picnic in an enchanted forest”, your scribe envisions Moomins in a Finnish forest. Either way it means one thing. The talented folk at Raw-Edges have done it again. Commissioned by Kvadrat to design the firm’s stand at the 2013 Stockholm Furniture Fair the Raw-Edges Design Studio duo created a massive construction of Dinesen Douglas Fir and 1,500 “sleeves” sewn from twenty different Kvadrat textiles.

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Raw-Edges Design Studio for Kvadrat, Stockholm Furniture Fair 2013

Yael Mer and Shay Alkalay describe the concept as “wooden cabin, soft roof tiles, fish skin and picnic under a weeping willow, all mixed in a massive pot with Kvadrat swatches. Served within a commercial fair with our aspiration to create a bit of relaxing surreal situation but very warm welcoming.” Unmentioned elsewhere, press images from Raw-Edges refer to the strips as “sleeves”. Inspection reveals tail end corners are stitched together inviting the further fantasy that with a bit of counter luck to “chance would be a fine thing”, your scribe would slip her arms through multiple sleeves and quickly disappear to enjoy Kvadrat fabric swatches while supping a private picnic.

For readers unfamiliar with Moomins, the title refers to a cell in Moomin on the Riviera (1955). Delighted to be in a suite in The Grand Hotel, MoominMamma exclaims how nice it is to live in your house. Equally so with Kvadrat fabrics. It’s nice to live in a home that has them. DJ

Moomin

Jack Frost? Wee Willie Winkie wants a word with you. It’s not enough your scribe’s domestic BTU usage means she is burning money faster than pound notes ignited on The KLF’s infamous bonfire. No, this morning Jack Frost laced London with a sheet of snow and for that there is only one affordable reprisal. Flannel.

In the Clearing Autumn (left) and In the Clearing Winter (right) designed by for Loulou Flannels

In the Clearing Autumn (left) and In the Clearing Winter (right) designed by Anna Maria Horner for Loulou Flannels

When Master Winkie legged it through the streets of Edinburgh, he did so in a long flannel nightgown, the 19th century equivalent of a onesie. For those of us who don’t want descendants sniggering over our onesie Instagrams, the better route to warmth is a set of flannel sheets. Flannel comes in classic, updated, or cute. Avoid cute unless buying for a child or you fancy falling asleep counting flocks of fleecy lambs or ducklings.

Westfalenhoffe flannels in Edinburgh patterns

Westfalenhoffe flannels in Edinburgh patterns

German textile firm Westfalenstoffe weave a fine grade (535 threads per sq/cm), organic flannel in classic tartan patterns. Their UK representative Lesley Carr knows cold. She lives with her husband in a wee bothy in one of the highest and coldest places in the Scottish Highlands. Flannel is a necessity. “Westfalenstoffe flannels are nearly all made in Germany or Holland in bespoke ‘vertically integrated’ production factories” she says. Most are Oko-Tex Standard 100 certified, with a “sympathetic pH”, especially good for people with sensitive skin. Family owned since 1972, the original Westfalenstoffe was launched in the 1930’s by a collective of artists and sculptors, and some of their patterns are still manufactured by Westfalenstoffe. Classy and classic.

For those who want to snuggle under flannel sheets with a contemporary kick, the Loulou flannel collection by American designer Anna Marie Horner is the answer. “In the Clearing – Autumn” and “In the Clearing – Winter” (pictured above) are part of the collection, and while her designs have echoes of Paul Poiret, Werner Werkestatte and a fillip of Jan Kath’s fabulous “From Russia With Love” rug collection, her designs are inventive, original and covetable.

The collection’s fourteen designs range from “sweet to splashy”. The collection is available in the UK at Dragonfly Fabrics. Horner’s website includes free instructions to sew a flannel Log Mansion quilt (image below). And that is today’s task. Your scribe is sitting Jack Frost at her treadle sewing machine and instructing him on how to sew a flannel quilt. It’s the least he can do for bringing beautiful but unaffordable snow and wintry cold. DJ

Flannel Log Mansions quilt by Anna Marie Horner

Flannel Log Mansions quilt by Anna Marie Horner

“Clothes make the man”. So said American humorist and author Mark Twain. His famous quote was a comment on power. “Naked people”, he concluded, “have little or no influence on society”. In the hundred plus years since Twain’s observation, considerably less of our bodies are now habitually covered. But his quote is still valid. Clothes make statements. And since clothes “speak” for the wearer, shouldn’t our sartorial messages – at least some of the time – speak to the greater good? Scabal think so.

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For more than 70 years Scabal’s innovative excellence in the design and manufacture of luxury men’s fabrics has made them a leading global company and allowed them to expand to made-to-measure and ready-to-wear male fashion. A family company, Scabal’s leadership extends to corporate social responsibility. Scabal have launched a peace fund to support the work of Médecins sans Frontières – the doctors who risk their lives in crisis areas to provide emergency medical care for those who are metaphorically “naked” and vulnerable. Scabal has designed a Super 120’s charcoal 100% wool fabric with the word “peace” woven in pinstripes. Hundreds of the word appear in the suiting fabric, yet they can only be read at close range.

Scabal peace fabric

The sine qua non for a better world says JP Thissen, Chairman Scabal Group, “is peace and respect” for our fellow human beings. If the “naked” have little influence on society, then it is fitting that a company clothing men of influence should weave a “peace” fabric. Not one that shouts its message, but rather one that conveys its credo peacefully, quietly and with authority. Forget for a moment the semiotics of fashion, Scabal has made its commitment clear. Peace, peace, a hundred times peace. That is the mantra of the fabric and that is Scabal’s wish – and COVER’s – for 2013 and beyond. DJ

Beware the office whip round. A strong arm tactic to collect money for a gift earmarked for a colleague; opt out at peril of your weak limbed grasp of the greasy pole. Workers know their drip feed investment into the office equivalent of a Ponzi scheme is as as likely to create meaningful long-term yields as it’s likely for senior Ministers of State to gift HRH Queen Elizabeth II with a set of table mats. Except they did. British Cabinet Ministers commemorated the Queen’s December 2012 visit to a Cabinet meeting with a whip round for sixty melamine table mats fit for a Queen.

“You can never have too many table mats” crowed Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Thinking the Under Butler quickly stuffed the mats into the Royal regifting cupboard brands your scribe as decidedly middle class. Why? Because the gift was suggested by Buckingham Palace. The Queen’s breakfast table includes Tupperware, so melamine mats make for comfy cupboard soulmates.

In her 1950 book Home Making, Julia Cairns wrote, “The average home and those which rank higher than average have for a considerable time favoured table-mats.” “Chic and moderne“, mats revealed the “more modern type of smaller table”. But Cairns was wistful. “I hope the days are not too distant when present home-makers will see to it that the traditional charm of the well-laid table will be as much their personal pride as it was of earlier generations.”

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Lucie Pritchard hand printed linen table mats create the “future” table charm Julia Cairns hoped for in her 1950 reflections on a well-laid table.

The book includes a photo essay on then Princess Elizabeth’s marital residence at Clarence House. No shots of laid tables or TV trays in front of a black-and-white telly, but the text does reference “a kindly mushroom shade” fitted carpet and one in a “a deep likeable green”.

So if One (or anyone) must have table mats who does your scribe recommend as the source? British textile designer Lucie Pritchard. Adapting hand written vintage postcards as the visuals for her hand printed natural linen table mats, coasters and napkins, they are available from Not on the High Street (sold out but re-stock mid-January 2013.) Your scribe concedes Queen and Country are correct. Table mats are de rigueur. Just remember to choose wisely. DJ

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Lucie Pritchard hand printed linen table mats at Not on the High Street