It all began in Constantinople (now Istanbul) in Turkey in the late 19th century, where an Englishman named George Baker worked as a distinguished garden designer. The entrepreneurial Baker also ran a successful export business and, in 1884, he sent two of his sons – George Percival and James – home to set up a base in London.
At the start, GP & J Baker concentrated on importing Persian, Turkish and Turkoman carpets to the UK, which they re-exported
to Paris and America. However, the brothers gradually started to produce beautiful weaves and prints on home soil, employing
some of the leading designers of the day.
Avid and discerning collectors of rare and iconic designs gathered over the years from their own adventurous travels, the brothers began what has become the largest and most exciting privately owned textile archive in the world.
In the late 1890s GP & J Baker bought the renowned Swaisland Fabric Printing Company in southeast London, gaining most of its printing blocks and an archive of pattern books dating back more than a century. A few years later, George Percival added a further 400 antique block prints from the Holzach studio in Paris, followed by a further 250 rare Indian printed cottons.
In the early 1900s, the company’s most popular designs of naturalistic English garden flowers and florals became part of the enduring GP & J Baker style. Many of their exquisite prints are still sourced and adapted from its original archives: a number of which have been in production for 50 to 100 years, each re-issue adding another layer to their considerable charm. More recently, some of those exquisite prints have been re-imagined as woven fabrics, embroideries and wallpapers.
Of course, it takes more than an exceptional archive to maintain a successful heritage brand or, indeed, to retain a Royal Warrant from
Her Majesty The Queen, as GP & J Baker has done for more than 35 years. The company has always worked with a highly talented team of people, all with exceptional knowledge and skill, while its specialist designers can undertake specific bespoke projects, either adapting an already existing product and design, or developing individual commissions.
Managing and Creative Director of GP & J Baker, Ann Grafton, says: ‘As a business we are constantly challenging ourselves, utilising the very best technological advances, providing exceptional individuality, as well as retaining strong links with artisanal craftsmanship.’
‘What I find so exciting,’ she adds, ‘is the eclectic mix of GP & J Baker collections; their extraordinary diversity, ranging from elegant silks and linens to printed vintage designs, chic geometries and textures. The inspired colour palettes across all the collections fit perfectly into any period and any style of architecture.’
With showrooms in London’s Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, as well as Paris, GP & J Baker’s declared philosophy is to lead the way in textile design excellence, creating beautiful products to meet customers’ desire for comfortable, luxurious living. It is also setting its sights on the international market which, in a way, is where it came in.
GP & J BAKER Chelsea Harbour Design Centre, London SW10 0XF +44 (0)20 7351 7760