Ever since I was young I was always excited at the prospect of strolling the King’s Road, not only for its great selection of shops, but mainly because as you approach the Fulham end of town, the shops begin to relate increasingly to interiors. My favourite always being Designers Guild, perched on the corner of Old Church Street and the King’s Road. Going there has always been an ‘event’; the shop window displays have always reminded me of a sweet shop full of bright colours and shiny things! It is no wonder I would always plan to finish the walk here after much anticipation. Therefore, I could not pass up the opportunity of attending a lecture there at their flagship store with the founder and creative director, Tricia Guild, who began this empire back in 1970 whilst searching for textiles to decorate with. By re-colouring a collection of Indian hand-block printed textiles, the first collection was established.
The event was called ‘ A Certain Style’ which is also the name of her new book on which the lecture was based. Tricia Guild talked us through a selection of her latest projects that feature in the book, ranging from English country homes, decadent Parisian apartments and modern coastal retreats. Images of the book served as the backdrop where the audience was taken on a journey with Guild as she spoke about how she manages to connect each room of the home. This, she said, is mainly achieved by selecting a pattern or colour palette that would repeatedly feature in each room even if just as an accent.
So what is the secret behind her extremely recognisable work? Well, COLOUR was definitely a buzzword as were PATTERN and TEXTURE. Guild has a no-rules approach to her work and encouraged the audience to build up patterns, textures and colours, and to not fear them. The only rule is not to have one! She also highlighted that even muted interiors are colourful and that the features in a home are already adding colour, be it a wooden floor or kitchen cupboards. Guild hinted at starting her designs with black and white and developing the scheme from there. This was also noticeable in many of the images she showed us; let us not forget that black and white are colours too!
In a recent interview with Fashion We Like she said the following: “The most common mistake is that they use too much colour and too many colours and not enough neutral. If you want to use bold colour you have to be very considered and always use lots of white and neutral to allow the other colours to sing. Otherwise you will end up with a technicolour mishmash that is neither stylish nor restful!”
Her main influence? The great outdoors and predominately gardens. Not surprisingly either because if you know the collections there are floral influences everywhere, namely on their new digital panels.
This is by far the best design book I have bought in a long time and I am proud to have its front cover sit boldly on my coffee table. Even if you’re not into design you won’t be disappointed by James Merrell’s state of the art photography. It was a pleasure to meet Tricia and get my copy signed, and I hope to bank on her advice (and fearlessness!) as I grow into the designer I want to become.
“Decorating is such a personal thing. If you have a big personality – you are more than likely to be more confident with your choice of colours and patterns. If you are quieter, the chances are you will prefer a quieter scheme. There is no right or wrong but you must be true to yourself. Often I think people make the wrong choices because they are scared of what their friends might think – that to me is totally absurd and a recipe for disaster.” – Tricia Guild
A Certain Style is spot on. Designers Guild’s collections are instantly recognisable and it is therefore the ideal name for this book to celebrate Guild’s four decades at the forefront of design…and long may it continue.