January 06 2010
Lucia van der Post
Early January and it’s not the best time of year for British gardens. It was looking at just such a desolate wintry scene that gave Corinne Laurie a brainwave. The garden of her weekend cottage sported a garden table, chairs and a parasol, and in winter and when she wasn’t there, they all had to be protected. The only covers she could find were “dreary-looking green shrouds”. She came up with a solution: her sister Louise Unger photographed some ivy leaves and got “a fabulous manufacturer” in China to print the photograph onto some strong but lightweight and waterproof polypropylene/polyethylene. She then used the trompe l’oeil material to make covers for parasols, chairs, sunloungers, barbecues, stacking chairs and patio heaters, “turning eyesores into garden art”.
She called the company The Camouflage Company and she and Unger have made it their mission to “glamour-up the mundane things that we use every day”. They’ve expanded the range of photographic prints. There’s Long Grass (grasses and wild flowers), Willow (a chic print of willow basketwork), English Rose lined in prints of English rose petals (panier bag, pictured, from £15), Indie Chic, and, for a project for The National Gallery, a facsimile of a piece of fabric taken from Ingres’ painting of Madame Moitessier, which hangs in the Gallery.
Besides the covers, these prints are now used for a vast range of what are normally considered fairly mundane things – wheelie bags, storage boxes and pack-flat shopping boxes. The piece I like best is the duffel carrier (£18), which can be used as a flat sheet, a “box” or, using its drawstrings, as a duffel bag (for shopping, for laundry or anything else). John Lewis and Lakeland have snapped up their wares but you can also buy online.