Graham & Brown

Tempting damasks, prints with attitude and a new angle on trompe l’oeil. It’s time to dust off your decorator’s trestle – patterned walls are back as we turn our spotlight on Graham & Brown...

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

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It isn’t entirely a coincidence that as our autumn wardrobes are going all seductive with richly textured fabrics, dark florals and a whole lot of bling, our homes are similarly morphing into something more spectacular. Velvet has surfaced as an important trend, as have jacquard brocades and romantic prints. So, it is perhaps no surprise that damask, despite its vaguely housewifey air, has unexpectedly begun to creep back into our homes. A velvet and damask cushion here, a silk-tasseled lampshade there... In fact, it was only after a recent trip to Graham & Brown, the British wallpaper powerhouse, that we were realised how fashionable the old Dame had become.

Damask, like a good velvet blazer, is opulent without being OTT. Often in silver and a pleasing ornamental design, it adds splendour to a room in an easy, normcore way. To be fair, we have long been admirers of damask – ever since the cool duo at Glasgow-born design studio Timorous Beasties added their subversive twist to the pattern – so it is with glad tidings we (tentatively) welcome it back.

ABOVE: 'Portuguese Tile' (middle print) is a sea of rich greens
ABOVE RIGHT: Trompe l'oeil reigns in 'Creased Up'
BELOW: 'Burlesque White' damask by Julien Macdonald

ABOVE: 'Paradox' wall mural by Kelly Hoppen and Dynamo

Graham & Brown has stacks of knockout looks for Autumn/Winter 2016. The UK wallpaper company’s wide-reaching style stems from the passion of Mr Graham and Mr Brown who founded the business in 1946. Never losing sight of its family-run values – today, two of their grandsons still lead the firm – an impressive 50% of its workforce has been with the company for over 25 years. Rolling out wallpaper from its Blackburn-based HQ to a global clientele, G&B also collaborates with luminaries, including Kelly Hoppen and Marcel Wanders, whose contemporary designs bring a little 21st-century sparkle to the mix.

ABOVE: 'Brian Eno Flower Mask' abstract prints; 'Fresco Palm' 

Of the designer cahoots, the new Brian Eno abstract print is one of our faves. There’s a cool new green 'Portuguese Tile' print, a fab gold spot and hidden away in the design studio, the Spring 2017 Kelly Hoppen designs are looking extremely swish. The company has also started doing murals which, at a starting price of £80 for a 3 x 2.5 metre piece, we think is really good value for a picture wall.  

BELOW FROM TOP: 'Dotty Gold'; 'Marbled Black and Grey'

Lose your fear. Try the heavily embossed, silver 'Metallic Tile' on the ceiling. Impress your floral-obsessed friends at dinner with the tropical 'Fresco Palm', or opt for opulence with the gloriously swirly 'Marbled Black and Grey'. Whether you go for graphic, glittery or a mash-up of damask and encaustic tiles, now's the time to get your wallpaper swag on...
grahamandbrown.com

Kazuhito Takadoi

Minimal yet opulent, the craft pieces by UK-based Japanese talent Kazuhito Takadoi turn grass into art

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

Kazuhito Takadoi isn’t a garden designer. He isn’t a horticulturist. Nor is he a florist. An art-loving plant enthusiast, Takadoi weaves, embroiders and sews blades of grass into paper and turns them into something very different. With an eye for combining elegant design with a fascination for plants, Takadoi tends to his allotment – and then tends to his craft.

‘I grew up on the outskirts of Nagoya in Japan, which at the time was still quite rural,’ says Takadoi. ‘My grandparents were keen gardeners, so I picked up my interest from them. From a very young age I knew that I wanted to do something creative connected with nature.’

ABOVE: 'Akari' (Light bubinga)
BELOW: 'Kyousei 2' (Symbiosis 2) 

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ABOVE: 'Oeda' (Bough)
BELOW: 'Shikaku' (Square)

Having studied horticulture in Japan and the US before relocating to the UK, Takadoi enrolled on an Art and Garden Design degree at Leeds Metropolitan University. ‘I remember visiting National Trust gardens on a trip to England when I was 17,’ he recalls. ‘I was fascinated by plants and always wanted to study here. It was perfect for me because it was a chance to learn about environmental art.’

Citing his influences as a cross between the formality of Japanese floral art and landscape artists such as the UK's Andy Goldsworthy, Takadoi turned his creative skills to paper. He began making sculptural Christmas cards for friends using natural materials he’d collected. ‘This was just a hobby for me,’ he explains. ‘But one day a gallery asked me if I would consider recreating a piece on a larger scale.’ 

In 2003, Takadoi set up his studio. Today, he uses hawthorn twigs with gold leaf and spiky grasses (grown and handpicked from his garden) to create circular compositions inspired by the woodlands surrounding his birthplace Nagoya. After the dried grass blades are sewn through the paper, they change colour subtly, mirroring seasonal shifts. Takadoi also enjoys playing with shadows and light in his works. ‘Experimentation for me is an ongoing process,’ he explains. ‘I am always on the lookout for a new material that I can incorporate into my work.’ He loves preserving nature and bringing it into the house. ‘Most of what I use are materials that would end up on the compost heap. I like to make something with them – and keep them forever.’
kazuhitotakadoi.com   jaggedart.com