Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Interior Design fabric talks at Chelsea Harbour - Helen Cormack of Tissus d'Helene and Hermes textiles

The Focus Design Festival is one of the interior design festivals taking place in London this week and I thought I'd share with you a few of the things I saw for those who might be interested.
One of the many atriums of the Design Center
The event is taking place in the Design Center in Chelsea Harbour which is the mecca for all interior design needs and wants.

A display mannequin of various textiles at Tissus d'Helene

I got to Lots Road via a Range Rover car service they were shuttling people back and forth with as Lots Road is in deep Chelsea and hard to get to.  Plus they were competing with Decorex, another festival in Kensington Palace so they had to make it accessible.


I got there in time to hear Helen McCormack speak about fabrics and who better to hear about textiles than Helen herself.
Helen is the Helene of the company Tissus d'Helene.


There was a lovely lady just playing with fabrics and so open that I didn't realize this until she introduced herself as we were chatting which was a little embarrassing.

She told us a brief history on how she set up her company.

She used to work for Claremont fabrics for 8 years and thought she needed a change.
Apparently she went to lunch with one of my favorite designers 
Nina Campbell who said that by chance there was a company that needed representing and she thought she would take a chance.
Part of her showroom
She then remortgaged her house to provide three years rent for a little office/showroom at Chelsea Harbour Design Center which was £30,000 a year plus extra so she could pay off the mortgage! Now she is in a superb showroom that is about 4 times the original size of her start up office with a few members of staff.
A chair covered in one of her fabrics
Her talk compared to others was so personal, informative, and interesting.  While the other talks I went to were factual, I think being not just an employee but having invested so much into something gave the talk a special touch.




She said that one of the most popular fabrics since the 60's was the "Arbre de Matisse Reverse".

Referred to in a Billy Baldwin book


It seems that it is one of the designer trade's most relied on prints and has even made covers of magazines and books.
On the chair on the right on a recent issue
The sofa is covered in the fabric
The story how it was created was the Billy Baldwin was apparently looking for a print that would match the motif on the Matisse print on the wall hence the name of the fabric.
The motif in the blue color Via
She showed us so many lovely prints that I don't see how one could ever make a decision!





She showed us antique French prints that had been modernized in color palettes.  She said that she does customize a lot of fabric and doesn't ask for a minimum order of a ridiculous amount of fabric which was nice for the public to know.

The following prints were hand blocked and showed us the nuances and issues that come with handmade items from the client and designer's point of view.


She said that the repeat of the fabric won't be like digitally printed fabrics and certain clients demand such perfection that even a mark of a block or not being able to upholster things exactly put a lot of people off.
The sad consequence of this is that many workshops have to close down due to increasing demands of "perfection."
Rose Tarlow had to stop further production of the line due to this.
But if you wanted true hand made craftsmanship,
 John Robshaw still produces hand blocked fabrics.
The block is stamped four times to make a full circle.

Apologies for the picture but the fabric below was from 
Marialida whose company director was a member 
of the fabled Fortuny dynasty.
She explained the artisanal nature of creating fabrics for not only the design but the cloth and weave itself.  Apparently, Marialida will take commissions from individual clients for things like curtains to mimic a favorite out of production rug for example.

This fabric was made with real silver and gold thread so ages beautifully and truly gets better with age.  I love this gilver color.

She was very gracious as she wanted her audience to appreciate old crafting techniques she even told us to stop by at her competitors at George Le Manach to see examples of textiles made by antique French looms.
 These fabrics were in a special room at the Claremont showroom.
 This green fabric was made in the original color, style and technique.
 The chair was covered in a fabric that was made in the original fabric and style but had modern colors for this special range.
I then went to a talk at Hermes featuring their new homeware collaboration with Dedar.
Don't you love this Equateur motif?
For a better look - please click on link.
 I do love the crispness and colors and the fabric was so thick yet luxuriously sturdy.
 Some of the fabrics were based on scarves and I love the pattern below!  It is based on the 24 Circuit Faubourg.
How very clever!

On a side note, there was a very chic Italian lady at the talk for Hermes fabrics.
 My friend who is very knowledgeable in fashion admired her coat.
He said, 
"Nice gilet.  Celine autumn/winter collection...Really suits you."
 She said, "Nice guess."
As if on cue, my friend and I both replied at the same time,
"It wasn't a guess!"

But she really was so chic and I got completely diverted and am googling Celine non stop.

34 comments:

  1. Billy Baldwin grew up a few blocks from where I grew up and where I live now. I am a huge fan!

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    1. I am a huge fan of his too! He is one of the legends...

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  2. Diverted, how funny! That is indeed a very chic gilet.
    How excellent these events were. I'd love to have gone, I could look at fabric all day. I never thought I'd want to live in London until I started reading your blog!

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    1. Don't you just love it though? On "real people" celine still looks good. Mind you I think she was an ex model but you would love London and I live very near to a Brora store:) will take a pic soon for you!

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  3. What an inspirational lady, taking the risk and taking the plunge and now doing and being successful at what she does. Hallelujah to sensible minimum orders for customised work - in the long run businesses benefit from this. In another life I'd love to work with fabrics - fashion designing - because in my head I know exactly what I want, but a lot of the time I just don't find it!

    I'm afraid Naomi, that is all I can do when it comes to Celine - Google it! Do a post on your perspective of Celine following your Google search xx

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    1. I have been googling it but certain things don't make sense,,,Why a full on cashmere coat but then no sleeves? I think I just got swayed by a person in real life looking so damn good in it! Helen was just so darn likable and so knowledgeable and I love knowing how things are made! xx

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  4. are you an interior designer?
    or an aspiring interior designer??

    Pretty fabrics.(I am a dunce with interior design....)

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    1. Neither actually! But I adore it and as I get older I am more intrigued in the art of dressing a home than a person. I still like fashion but as my friend said at the expo - interior decor seems like fashion for old people!

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  5. You do get around, I love it! I'm another one who could look at fabrics all day long - so much gorgeousness to immerse oneself in.

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    1. I just loiter Sulky! Those fabrics were insane and I just wanted to drape myself togalike in all the textiles. I think I must have been a weaver in a previous life...

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  6. what a fun and educational experience. I find it so funny that the real "celebrity" was so real and approachable while the staff person was so snotty.

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    1. It was so much fun and you try going because today is the last day. Helen was just so lovely and approachable - you should visit the showroom!

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  7. I would have loved to go to this event, seems really nice! Thanks for the review darling!
    xoxo

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    1. I wonder if Paris has a similar huge expo like fashion week? Let me know if Paris does because I would catch the Eurostar for a similar event xx

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  8. Oh, my old stomping ground! I used to work on Lots Road. I think I've told you this before though. The designer I worked for had a fabric and wallpaper range, and I found it so fascinating to watch the whole process of doing the designs/ colours and then going into production. I used to make the sample books (by hand!!) in the back room for clients.
    Love the summary of your talk, it sounds wonderful. Cleremont was always beloved of all the decorators in London. They have one Strie that they just go crazy for (because it has lovely colours and goes with everything).

    I find it so sad that people are demanding perfection. Nature is not perfect, so why do people try to create it in their homes? When things are too perfect, it's completely bland. you need a wobble in the wall, or colours not quite matching to make a room come alive xx

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    1. Yes of course I remember. It was a slick operation and quite busy. It was overwhelming but in such a nice way! I think you would just love Helen because she had no attitude and yet gave the most interesting talk in the center. Yes you are right - nature isn't perfect so why do we demand it so?? But I think the rise of OCD doesn't help either. I overheard a few designers saying that clients are wanting more customized perfection which is a weird mix. They want handmade couture but won't accept faults so things get returned and costs get incurred so now manufacturers can't be bothered. So sad because how will techniques stay alive?? But I loved the little stories behind the fabrics. I am turning into a fabric nerd...xx

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  9. Seriously, after reading this post this morning (specifically the link to John Robshaw), I made haste to the local riot art and craft to stock up on linoleum and lino carving objects- ready to make my mark on the world of linens DIY style. I spent over $200 and my kitchen's a mess. Tonight I plan on stealing a wood block from a neighbour's property that I spied earlier. Ssshhh.

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    1. Right - that's a plan - a new pop up for handcrafted linens!! You can even get the kids to help??
      If you do it - send me pics and I will consider an order...PS Your secret is totally safe with me.

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  10. Ooh I thought that I left a comment here! But poof! It's a mystery. So I will just repeat that I really appreciate that you have so many interests N--and that you take us with you!!! This is of course, just all incredibly beautiful and inspiring. Of course I am over the moon for the Hermes fabrics--and oh! I used Remi's iphone for a post that is just for you...coming soon...

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    1. Oh no!! What is going on with my blog?? I am going to get this fixed pronto.
      Maybe too many interests that I get a bit frazzled at time Heather...Although the prices were steep and almost cheaper to buy a scarf and make it into a pillow!! I can't wait to see what's coming :) x

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  11. Fabulous Naomi.. I love the Chelsea Design centre... could spend the weekend there!! Loved meeting Helene and even recognised a couple of the fabrics - Rose Tarlow's fabric being one of my favourites! I adore everything about interiors... and wandering through fabrics ... such bliss! xx

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    1. This week is interior decor heaven! Fashion week for homies. Helen is just so darn nice right? Rose Tarlow is now selling off the last of hand printed fabrics stock. Get some now as she is no longer involved in that part - but Jon Robshaw's stuff is lovely IRL. I need to go back for a better look! xx

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  12. "interior decor seems like fashion for old people!" what a giggle, I left a comment today - no here - anyhoo, I love fabrics, count me in in interiors over fashion anyway. Decorex used to be my favourite event, I worked in interiors for a few years and just loved it.

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    1. I did think I am showing my age when I was cooing over lampshades and rugs. Sorry - problems with my blogger. Mercury must be retrograding soon...BUt I also went to Decorex - it was good fun - I would love to work in interiors at least to tick off the list - you must write a post about some of your experiences!!

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  13. Your pictures are good - as always. Thanks. I´d really need to see and touch everything in person, before being able to say what I like most.
    Seeing the pictures, I´d turn towards the Hermes ones.

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    1. Thanks Mette although I should think about a new camera...yes feel is very important but FYI the Hermes was sooo thick and strong so perfect for the sofa.

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  14. What a great event, and what fabulous fabrics! x

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    1. Yes London is jam packed ths week with events!

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  15. Such beautiful fabrics! Thanks for sharing these photos!

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  16. Fabric nerd is okay with me! I loved looking at all that fabric via your post. A most heavenly heaven experience. It's really sad that people no longer want the imperfection of handmade. Strangely enough, just before I came to your post I had written this in my comments section about an imperfection in my latest post "Yes, I was playing about with the cross out tool and decided that I wouldn’t change all the names. In some cultures, people deliberately leave little unfinished or imperfect bits in their work. I rather like that idea as a way to teach me to worry less about perfection, so, occasionally I will leave a little imperfection, a loss of pattern in something I do."

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    1. Yes I agree and in Japanese there is a word called wabi Sabin which means imperfect mismatched beauty. I love a little individual character!

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