April 19 2011
Should I need an inexpensive pick-me-up for the kitchen, or just have a slow few minutes to fill in front of the computer of an afternoon, I make straight for the cult e-tailing site New House Textiles. There are hours of blameless pleasure to be had trawling this online store for cheery, upbeat linens and accessories – all in the firm’s trademark retro prints.
New House Textiles is actually far from new. It’s a family firm that dates back to the 1920s. The present boss, Nick Stanier, is grandson of the founder, Harold. Young master Nick studied textiles at Leeds University and it was his idea to transform a traditional business by engaging artist-designers from St Martins and the Royal College of Art to freshen up the NHT offering. And it’s now as fresh as a printed daisy, cool without being too slick or try-hard. Nick now recruits young British creatives – the illustrator Charlotte Farmer is his latest find – and also revives favourite 20th-century Swedish prints. The resulting look is a marriage between Festival of Britain and midcentury Scandinavian. A match made in design heaven, if you ask me.
So this is how it works. Each pattern comes in several forms. If you fall in love with, for example, Red Fox – Kersten Boulogner’s gorgeous, earthy 1970s print – you can buy it as a chopping board (£16.50), in the form of a tray (from £20.95), a pot stand (£12.95), a tea towel (£8.95), napkins (£3.95) and a tablecloth (first picture; 145cm x 250cm, 85 per cent cotton, 15 per cent linen, £47.50). But that might be a fair few foxes too far.
My favourites are a mix of new and old. Charlotte Farmer’s Souvenir Spoons tea towel (48cm x 78cm, 52 per cent linen, 48 per cent cotton, £9.95) is a lovely recent addition. Otherwise, the Scandinavian star of the collection is Marianne Westman. Now in her 80s, Westman has an impressive archive of print designs including Herring, a pale blue row of fishy forms, available as a tablecloth (second picture, £47.50), chopping board (£16.50), tea towel (£8.95), table runner (£19.96) and porcelain storage jar (£22.96). Westman’s Picknick print also comes in many forms, including a tray (third picture, £26.50).
New House Textiles is based in Hereford, but you can buy in sterling, dollars and euros, and it will ship to anywhere in the world.