Textile manufacturing is deeply ingrained into Britain’s heritage, and continues to be to this day – thanks to the wealth of homegrown fabric and textile designers keeping the crafts, skills, traditions and quality of our British textiles industry alive. If you’re planning to re-upholster a tired chair (2021 is the year of sustainability and upcycling, after all), refresh your windows with a new pair of curtains or give your sofa cushions a makeover, take the opportunity to support British craftsmanship and businesses by choosing one of these incredible UK designers.
Best British Textile Designers
Beloved by many a decorator, interior designer and fabric enthusiast alike – Colefax and Fowler is a leading example of quality British textile manufacturing. Founded in the 1930s by Lady Sibyl Colefax (with celebrated decorator John Fowler coming on board in the 1940s), it has since grown to become one of the most recognised and established decorating firms, drawing royal and celebrity clients with a constantly evolving range of fabrics and wallpapers. Balancing traditional English roots with ever-evolving character and flair, the 2020 collection comprises of classic floral designs, contemporary motifs influenced by natural fibres like seagreass and straw, and fresh takes on traditional botanical prints (like Greenacre).
Launched by Farrow & Ball founders, Tom Helme and Martin Ephson, Fermoie uses natural dyes for all of its collections, resulting in a beautifully mellow and varied range of collections (comprising of over 400 colourways). It’s also committed to sustainability, using natural raw materials, water-based pigments and recyclable, biodegradable packaging. The latest collection, Astrea, weaves together hand drawn foliage, flowers and stars in turquoise greens, faded heritage pinks and sunny yellow and neutrals.
Drawing inspiration from the beauty of the English countryside, since 1860 Sanderson has been recognised for its elegant hand-drawn designs and highly pigmented colours. Not one for shrinking violets, the textile designer’s bold draw on floral designs, bold colour and patterns and influences from afar (see: the Ottoman Empire-inspired Caspian collection).
Launched in the height of the swinging Sixties, Osborne & Little’s imaginative approach was pioneering at the time of its inception, and and continues to be to this day. Quality and creative innovation define this British brand, much-loved for its mix of contemporary and classic designs (some of its archives have even made it into the V&A). The latest collection, Kanoko, combines muted blush and teal tones and vibrantly reimagined stripes – a modern interpretation of traditional dyeing techniques.
World-renowned interior designer Nina Campbell’s textiles and fabrics are easily identified by their playful, feminine patterns and timeless appeal. While traditional floral designs feature heavily in collections like Montacute and Paradiso, the designer is also known for her bold, contemporary fabrics like Talara and Fontibre.
Equally admired for its wallpapers as its fabrics, 1873-founded British brand, Cole & Son, is the go-to to create a design splash. Bold patterns, colours and influences characterise its designs, from tropical birds to tigers, botanical prints and blooming florals. Its new fabric collection, The Contemporary Collection, is a curation of the brand’s design icons, reimagining them as linens, cottons, velvets, silks and jacquard weaves.
A royal warrant holder since 1982, GP & J Baker has long been a favoured supplier of fabrics and wallpapers to the Royal household. Over its illustrious history (which began over 135 years ago in 1884) it has employed the leading arts and crafts designers of different generations, and developed an astonishing archive of designs. Today, they are skillfully adapted to meet modern tastes and demands, and remain a British firm decorating favourite.
Chelsea Gem’s abstract fabrics and wallpapers in a palette of muted, fresh and contemporary hues are all hand drawn, cut and printed at a local mill. Created in a cottage in Chelsea and inspired by Chelsea Life, the brand’s designs have been picked to furnish iconic buildings like the Chelsea Barracks, The Shard and The Lanesborough. All of its materials are natural, sustainable, and sourced locally.
London-based George Smith is well-established as a fine furniture makers, but what you might not know is that it also produces responsibly-sourced, sustainable and Britsh-made upholstery fabrics. Among its classic, understated designs are Feathers, Japonais and Gollut – one of the brand’s classics, which comes in a variety of muted tones with a ‘tea stained’ background.
Launched in 2000 by Michal Silver with partners Christopher Farr and Matthew Bourne; Christopher Farr Cloth has earned a reputation for its commitment to the finest materials and traditional craftsmanship, along with creative collaborations with artists and designers such as Kit Kemp. Its designs are playful and colourful, drawing influence from different cultures the world over, and the work of 20th century artists.
You can’t fail to fall in love with Penny Morrison’s distinctive, characterful patterns. In the years since the brand was founded by interior designer, Penny Morrison, it’s become as much a staple in stylish country homes as in smart London townhouses. Collaborations with the likes of Sarah Vanrenen have brought a new flavour to designs, expanding the brand’s extensive portfolio with patterns like Aspa, Dahlia and Sunda in Penny Morrison’s signature bright colourways.
Monica Perlhagen founded Chelsea Textiles in 1990, when she came to London from New York where she’d worked as a fashion buyer in Bloomingdale’s. With Chelsea Textiles, she aimed to create a niche for fabrics that recreated antique embroidery and used authentic materials to complement traditional interiors. Today, across its collections you’ll also find Scandinavian influences and collaborations with the likes of Alidad, Kit Kemp and Robert Kime. The brand has also worked with exclusive hotels like the Firmdale group, adding to the interiors of the Ham Yard, Soho and Covent Garden hotels and more.
Interior by Bernard Interiors. chelseatextiles.com
Located in Langton Street, Chelsea, The Fabric Collective brings together the finest artisan designers from Britain and further afield for its curated selection of textiles. Its home-grown designers include Yorkshire-based Jessica Osborne, Penny Morrison, Rapture & Wright and Parker and Jules. All fabrics can be viewed on the ground serene floor of the Collective’s London showroom (Covid-19 restrictions permitting).
photo: Penny Morrison. thefabriccollective.com
Rapture & Wright was launched in 2004 by Peter Thwaites and Rebecca Aird – an illustrator and graphic designer respectively. Not only are all of its designs hand printed, being one of the few studios in the UK to retain this craft, but the textiles are also created with the help of the best suppliers across the British Isles. It’s eco-friendly credentials are impressive, too, the studio operates a sustainable printworks in Gloucestershire, working within the highest ecological standards.
Inspired by the unique identity of traditional British homes (thatched cottages, Georgian manors and London townhouses) in 2005 Nancy Parker and Juliet O’Carroll founded Parker & Jules, utilising their combined experience in textiles to create a fabric company that prized pattern and maximalism. Inspired by the quiet pace of everyday country life, the buzz of fashion exhibitions, the Far East, folklore, myth and more – Parker & Jules fabrics come in a myriad of colours and patterns that instantly re-energize any interior.
Named after the London neighbourhood it was conceived in (‘A village-like borough with a melting pot of cultures and colourful community of creatives’) House of Hackney is the work of husband and wife team, Frieda Gormley and Javvy M Royle. Characterised by quirky, colourful, distinctive and off-beat patterns, HoH also regularly collaborates with creatives like Lukas Palumbo, &Other Stories, Peter Reed, Axminster and more.
Soane is a brand with many strings to its bow: furniture, upholstery, lighting, and of course, its fabrics and wallpapers. Often inspired by founder Lulu Lytle’s collection of antique textiles, carpets and objects, Soane’s distinctive fabrics are made in British mills and workshops using traditional methods like block and screen printing. Soane also offers a custom service with the option to commission your own fabric.
Wild and natural environments inspire Jessica Osborne’s fabrics, which are printed in England on 100% linen. In the Wilderness collection you’ll find vibrant repetitive patterns in highly pigmented colourways – from raspberry pink to cobalt blue and emerald greens.
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