November 09 2011
Lucia van der Post
Now I know the world is not short of fabrics, but Lulu Lytle’s new range for Soane Britain, her fascinating shop in London’s Pimlico Road (a wonderful source of interesting furniture, lighting and accessories and – an added plus – everything is made in Britain), is worth looking at. It’s a small collection of eight designs and, like everything else in Soane, they don’t look much like anybody else’s fabrics.
They’re all based on or inspired by the antique fabrics and objects that Lytle has been collecting over the years from markets, auctions and while travelling. Take her Ottoman Scribe fabric (£158 a metre) – hand-printed on linen, it was taken from a detail found in a book of antique photographs from North Africa. The photograph shows a man sitting on a vegetable-leaf carpet against a wall-hanging with a calligraphic leaf design, and it makes a charming motif. There are four colourways: eau de nil, sepia, raspberry and gold. Then there’s Turkish Blossom (right in picture, £158 a metre), based on a fabric found at a Chatsworth House sale – it too is hand-printed on a linen base cloth and comes in duck-egg blue and dove or old gold. I love Paw Print the best (left in picture, £90 a metre); based on a mid-20th-century African fabric, it looks surprisingly good in an English country-house setting. It, too, is on a linen base and comes in raspberry, indigo and chocolate.
The designs all have a gentle quality that makes them amenable enough to fit into almost any aesthetic, most particularly the shabby-chic look, with lots of wood and panelling. They’d also be a good way of introducing a little pattern into houses that are still locked into minimalist interiors.