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  1. gainsboroughweaving
  2. Being Modern in Paris

    An exhibition celebrating modernity in art across the floors of the Frank Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton

    Alfred H. Barr, Jr., the founding director of MoMa, believed that ‘modern’ described “the progressive, the original, the difficult, rather than the safe.”

    Barr’s words resonate in this exhibition, tracing the acquisition history of MoMa, of the pieces that made a mark on the art world and raised MoMa to the status of globally recognised gallery and authority on modern art.

    It was a privilege to see some of the most celebrated works of modern art, and to walk through the chronology of recent art periods from Abstract Impressionism and Minimalism to more recent Digital media.

    Particularly beautiful was Gustav Klimt’s Hope, II. The colours, details and emotion of this piece come through anew with a physical confrontation.

    Mark Rothko’s No.10, with its soft merging hues of blue, lilac, grey and yellow, also made a particular impact; it was at once clear to see the expression of human emotion within his dreamlike landscape of colour – in his own words: tragedy, ecstasy and doom.

    Gustav Klimt, Hope, II

    Mark Rothko, No. 10

  3. Silent Pool: Collaboration

    For Decorex 2017, Gainsborough and Silent Pool partnered over our mutual appreciation for the importance of UK craftsmanship.  The film produced to celebrate our collaboration features the Silent Pool design, designed by Laura Barrett, woven as a cloth on our looms in Suffolk.

    Suffice to say, it was an absolute pleasure to work with Silent Pool both at the Mill and at the show, where the Gainsborough Cocktail (featuring mulberry cordial and silk gel) was available to sample (it is still available to those who arrange a visit to the Silent Pool Distillery). This project which was creatively directed by Squint Studio, is part of a larger series of collaborations between Silent Pool and established British design brands as one of their Intricately Realised series, and the silk was used to create a bespoke pop up portable bar.

    Bar trunk created by Squint for Silent Pool

    As with all folk lore, different versions of the Silent Pool tale exist. The most common variant has King John surprising a woodcutter’s daughter whilst bathing; frightened, she fled to the depths, where she drowned and where her restless spirit haunts the dead stillness of the waters.

  4. Designing The Sir John Soane Collection

    We spent months anticipating the launch of our new collection – the Sir John Soane – at Decorex 2017 this week; this is an insight into the designers’ process through the collection development.

    This collection was inspired by the individual style of Sir John Soane, one of the most influential and original of all English architects. Soane was an avid collector of artefacts and works of art, many of which were obtained on his Grand Tour and displayed in his home, which he left to the country on his death in 1837. It is one of London’s most popular museums and continues to inspire new generations of designers and architects. 

    John Soane’s Library and The Soane Damask 

    Fun to design and even more exciting to see as a finished fabric, the John Soane’s Library design is all about the details, from the pine cones on the chairs to The Soane Damask lining the glass fronted cabinets, and the fabric draws you into the magic and mystery of Sir John’s library.

    The Soane Damask features in its own right in the collection. Woven on one of our punch card operated 1930s Hattersley looms, it combines a silk organzine warp with a thick cotton weft, emulating the original fabric found in the museum. 

    John Soane’s Entrance Hall and John Soane’s Crêpe

    This Entrance Hall design was not originally intended to have a such a large repeat size but we soon realised that the brickwork would look far more effective if woven to scale. As the redesign is dependant on the fabric working as walling or curtaining as a single repeat, we have this design saved in 3 parts – the brickwork, the wall texture and the plaster casts – so that we can weave it ‘made to measure’ according to the wall and window heights our customers have in mind.

    John Soane’s Crêpe is offered in three colourways and draws on the texture of the Porphyry walling in the Entrance Hall, which we felt would offer a sophisticated marriage to any design in the collection. 

    John Soane’s Dome and John Soane’s Column 

    John Soane’s Dome, the largest design in the collection, presented a huge challenge. Gainsborough’s Design Manager undertook the project and spent weeks inputting all the little details and shading that brings this immersive design to life; with over 50 individual sculpted works featured in the design, this was a labour of love!It was really important to us that the Column design should have an impactful 3D visual illusion. In the development of this fabric we had many hours of experimentation to find the right combination of weaves to produce the desired effect.

    The North Soane Drawing Room 

    The adage that looks can be deceiving generally applies to designs that appear simple, like this stripe in three colourways. We were fully expecting to struggle with the weave tensions of the stripe, but much to our surprise, this design wove like a dream and looks fantastic.

    John Soane’s Chair and Soane’s Mosaic

    John Soane’s Chair was one of the first designs we worked on. The leather lacks the perfection seen elsewhere in the museum and is tangible evidence of the passage of time; we wanted to retain the authenticity of the cracked leather and hope that this design will elicit the same romanticised notions about Sir John for the end user as it did for us.

    The Chair design, together with John Soane’s Crêpe above, was developed specifically for upholstery use. Gainsborough fabrics have of course been employed on chairs and sofas for over 100 years, often lasting decades in regular use, but new standards (often arbitrary) emerge with time and some clients expect us to meet these rub tests. Months were spent in development to create fabrics that would meet the required standard while adhering to Gainsborough’s design aesthetics.

    A third upholstery-grade fabric was developed from a tiny detail of a Roman pavement in a painting we spotted in John Soane’s bedroom. A small scale design perfect for upholstery purposes, John Soane’s Mosaic design marries the classical with modernity in a way that Sir John Soane himself was famous for; we’re confident he would have approved of this, one of our favourite designs.

    Made by Gainsborough Fine Weavers & Dye House under Licence from Sir John Soane’s Museum. ‘Sir John Soane’s Museum’ is the registered trade mark of the Sir John Soane’s Museum.

    by Polly Eltes

    by Hannah Franklin

    Spencer Chair and Hamble Ottoman
    by The Odd Chair Company

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    Film made by Stock and Bokeh for Silent Pool Gin, demonstrating the production process of their bespoke silk woven at Gainsborough.

    Video credit: Stock and Bokeh

  6. A Collaboration with Silent Pool Gin

    Keep reading

  7. Cerith Wyn Evans at The Tate Britain... a retrospective

    On show last month at Tate Britain was the magnificent neon installation by Welsh artist Cerith Wyn Evans. Spanning the majority of the Duveen Gallery celling, his installation, ‘Forms in Space… by Light (in Time)’, featured abstract lines and free organic forms suspended in the air.   

    Inspired by the precise movements of the Japanese Noh theatre, his work is a clear embodiment of movement and dance. Evans’ installation was split into three parts which constantly changed in form and composition when viewed from varying perspectives within the space. This ‘visual maze’ was undoubtedly a complex and contemporary way to capture fleeting gestures and movement.

  8. TEXPRINT 2017

    Every year, Texprint showcases the best of the best textile graduate collections from universities all over the UK. Specially selected by industry experts, the event provides a platform for emerging designers to connect with prospective employers and buyers alike. Held at the prestigious Chelsea College of Art and Design, we took a trip to London to catch up with this year’s design talent who explained the many ideas and concepts inspiring their work.

    From car racing to heat reactive binders, all this week on social media we will be taking a look at some of our personal favourites from this year’s selection!

    Woven Jacquard fabric by RCA Masters Graduate - Charlotte Des'Ascoyne 

  9. The 1950s with Mary Schoeser

    Earlier this week, Mary Schoeser, a world authority on historical textiles, gave a presentation at the Warner Textile Archive in Braintree entitled “The appliance of science: surprising sources for 1950s patterns”.

    Of central importance to this era of design was The Pattern Group Project, which was convened in preparation for the 1951 Festival of Britain and involved prominent designers such as Lucienne Day and manufacturers, including Warners. Many of the iconic patterns we associate with 1950s design originated with The Pattern Group Project, which formed the basis for post-war design.

    The project was offered graphics of innovative X-rays of crystalline structures, allowing designers for the first time to utilise the latest scientific technology to evolve the next phase of surface pattern and design. To their surprise, they found that many of the patterns and designs found in these microscopic structures were familiar from pre-existing art and design; for example, the structure of kaolin resembles an American patchwork pattern and formed the basis for the Harwell design.

    Mary emphasised the excitement of the age, in particular the belief that science would shape a new world, and the torrent of technical innovations, including the development of acrylics, that enabled the same colours and patterns to be applied to both fabrics and plastics.

    If you are interested in finding out more about Mary’s talk, there is a publication by Mary Schoeser in the Journal of the Design History Society named ‘The Appliance of Science’.

    Calyx by Lucienne Day for Heal’s, 1951, from one of our best loved reference books - Twentieth Century Textiles by Francesca Galloway.

  10. Fabric Walling

    Fabrics have been used to beautify the walls of stately residences and commercial spaces since the early 18th century. European craftsmen developed a number of techniques to upholster walls that essentially involved stretching the fabric over batons positioned across a wall’s surface, providing a luxurious visual aesthetic, fantastic insulation and great acoustics in any given space.

    Using woven fabrics for walling is a favourite application of ours at Gainsborough. With the re-decoration of our entrance hall currently underway, we decided to upholster the walls with one of our archive favourites, the Sudbury Brocatelle, a stunning silk design originally woven in 1926 by Gainsborough’s founder, Reginald Warner. The fabric’s sophisticated burnt orange and gold colour was adapted from another archive fabric Warner designed even earlier in the 20th century, entitled The Small Chatsworth Bologna.

    We thought we would share the steps we took to transform our entrance hall using a well-loved century-old design into a sophisticated and opulent reception space.

    STEP 1   Position and secure wooden batons the height of the wall at intermittent intervals, as well as around the door frames and along the skirting and cornicing.

    STEP 2   Source fabric (from Gainsborough of course!) to cover the entire surface area of the walls, making allowance for the pattern repeat.

    STEP 3   Seam together fabric with the pattern repeat matching (as with wallpaper) to the height and overall width of the walls.

    STEP 4   Staple the fabric to the wood batons, starting from one corner and making your way around in the same direction, ensuring that the pattern repeat begins at the same place on each wall.  Ensure the fabric is as tightly stretched as possible to avoid sagging.

    STEP 5   Cut/trim the fabric to fit the wall.

    STEP 6   Cover the ugly staples and rough edges by gluing a ribbon or cord around the door frames, skirting and cornicing, making certain that no glue stains will permeate or bleed onto the fabric or ribbon.