With the global spread of COVID-19, vaunted London institutions such as the Saatchi Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum, and Tate Modern have been forced to close their doors indefinitely—though many can be viewed digitally. As the situation continues to evolve, much of the actual physical programming has been extended well into the back end of 2020, optimistic that 10 Downing will eventually ease restrictions.
A show we were specifically looking forward to was at one of our lesser known London faves (also shuttered), the the chicly offbeat Fashion and Textile Museum, which has no permanent collection, instead featuring rotating exhibits. Founded by legendary punk fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, and noted for its cheerful, bright orange and pink façade, it is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, by also commemorating the 50th anniversary of the capital’s exalted Designers Guild.
The latter is the invention of London interior design icon Tricia Guild, and rose from humble roots as small shop in Chelsea in 1970, to a paragon of contemporary style. The brand has since grown into a global enterprise, whose products have changed the way we view modern interior design. But while the exhibition remains postponed, there is a striking new companion book to fill the void, Out of the Blue: Fifty Years of Designers Guild, compiled and authored by Guild herself (and available via ACC Art Books),
The book unravels her unique approach to design, focusing on influences, intuitive methodology, and the techniques, processes and materials applied in her five decades of work. Originally frustrated with the lack of truly contemporary fabrics and wallpapers for interiors, her vision was to create a total lifestyle, not just a look.
Guild conjured new ways to mix diverse elements, as well as re-envisioning how color, pattern, texture and form can combine to create a harmonious space. Juxtapositions are still key to her style, and like an artist employing collage, have led to a remarkable eclecticism. However, what has remained consistent is the bold fearlessness with which she brings it all together.
Readers are given a peek into Guild’s inspirations: her travels to India, Japan and Scandinavia, and how it all translates into stunning new collections of fabrics, wallpaper, furniture and accessories. Ancient Indian textiles, Renaissance-style velvets and Swedish Gustavian wall treatments are brought together in surprisingly forward-looking harmony, eclectic amalgams which harmonize East and West, past and present.
Designers Guild is perhaps known best for florals and botanicals, but plain fabrics in a multitude of shades and textures, alongside a vast range of geometric and abstract designs, are also vital to the mix. And like the museum housing this exhibit, Guild is renowned for her confident and vivid use of color; but the natural and neutral palette enjoys equal prominence in her collections.
Of course, as we continue to shelter-in-place, what better time to seek inspiration for that long-considered interior remake? Out of the Blue, the book, is surely the perfect place to start.
For regular updates on upcoming London cultural events and re-openings, check out the Visit Britain site.