Behind The Scenes At Designers Guild
Launched in 1970 by Tricia Guild, Designers Guild had a huge impact on the traditional textile offering of the time. They quickly established a reputation for innovative use of colour, pattern and texture. Beginning with fabric, a more extensive range of products soon followed, including wallpapers, paints and finished products, contemporary furniture and a bath and bed collection.
Interestingly, Tanja Sharp, Product Development Manager, explained that Designers Guild doesn’t follow trends and ploughs its own path aesthetically. Artistry is very much the foundation of its ethos and designs evolve naturally rather than being part of an automated production process. In fact, nature plays a very big part in inspiring Designers Guild designs.
The starting point is always an original artwork, which forms the blueprint for a design collection and is reproduced as accurately as possible in the form of fabric or wallpaper. Computer technology plays a big part in registering every mark of the original design but creativity is paramount throughout the process.
The design team are obsessive about detail and involved in every element of production, visiting mills and factories around the world to seek out excellence. The cushion featured above was embroidered in India.
But equal consideration is given to the practicalities. The background of this densely patterned velvet is cream rather than white so that any wear is less noticeable. This fastidious attention to detail is woven into the DNA of the company.
Wallpapers are large scale but graduated so they can be adapted for different room heights. See this story to see how a wallpaper has been used to furnish a dressing room.
I’ve always thought of these designs in terms of the distinctive pretty florals and fresh stripes for which Designers Guild is so renowned but there are also strong graphics and moody, dark tones which are both modern and timeless.
The collections are showcased in contemporary settings and Tricia Guild herself still oversees every aspect of the photography and selection of locations. Vibrant colours and bold prints are what Designers Guild are known for but as Ben, manager of the Kings Road showroom, told us, they also offer an extensive range of neutrals and plains in a variety of textures to suit more muted schemes. The store itself is staffed with knowledgeable assistants, each an expert in one or other of the store’s product range and there is computer software available to help customers visualise a scheme in the context of their own homes.
Inspirational is one of those words that is bandied around a lot but in the case of Designers Guild, it couldn’t be more appropriate both in terms of its genuinely original designs and its perfectionist approach. This year marks fifty years of the Designers Guild and an exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum opens in February to celebrate the occasion.