The Cole & Son design studio is a hub of creativity more akin to an artist’s atelier than a production space. It’s here that the team of talented designers dream up the exquisite collections that make the company one of the most revered wallpaper manufacturers in the world. Ideas come predominantly from the illustrators’ own photographs, taken on immersive trips to inspirational locations, and each wallpaper design is the result of a collaborative creative process. Hundreds of images are pinned to the walls, forming the basis for original drawings and paintings that are then scanned into the computer for experiments with layout and sizing. The final designs are hand-painted to scale and, unlike many other manufacturers who are production-led, their print methods are dictated entirely by the design. ‘Our aim is to retain the integrity of the artwork, and in doing so create designs that are genuinely full of soul,’ says Carley Bean, design director.
The archive of 2,000 block print designs and 500 screen print designs includes wallpapers it has provided for national monuments such as Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament
These innovative new collections reflect the pioneering spirit shown throughout Cole & Son’s long and distinguished history. The company was founded in 1875 by John Perry, son of a Cambridgeshire merchant, who began producing high-quality block printing for the likes of Jeffrey & Co and Sanderson. It built machines that allowed the reintroduction of the process of pan coating and also revived that of flocking, which imitates cut velvet. In 1941 the company was bought by A P Cole, proprietor of the company Cole & Son (Wallpapers) Ltd – an amalgamation that meant that Cole & Son became the custodians of the most significant collection of wooden printing blocks in Britain. Today, the Cole & Son archive consists of approximately 2,000 block print designs, 500 screen print designs and a huge quantity of original drawings and wallpapers, representing all styles from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. These include wallpapers the company has provided for national monuments such as Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament. This historic legacy continues to inform and inspire the company’s bold design philosophy and spirit of innovation.
Cole & Son Unit 10G Design Centre Chelsea Harbour London SW10 0XE +44 (0)20 7376 4628