Fabrics, Walls & Floors
Cole & Son
An esteemed wallpaper design house with a historic archive that informs its contemporary, hand-painted designs

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

This year Cole & Son is launching Senza Tempo, its fourth collection of wallcoverings in collaboration with iconic Italian design house Fornasetti, and the Contemporary collection, a curated selection of iconic patterns from the company’s vast design portfolio. This collection marks the 60th anniversary of the house’s iconic Woods pattern, along with other modern classics such as the luscious Palm Jungle and elegant Hicks’ Hexagon designs, which epitomise Cole & Son’s design philosophy of combining colour and pattern in a signature style. There’s also the Botanical ~Botanica~ collection, which taps into the trend for large-scale, loose, contemporary florals. ‘Ideas for the Botanical ~Botanica~collection came from the English countryside, with a colour palette drawn from the changing seasons,’ explains Carley. ‘As well as exploring the unkempt beauty of forests and meadows, we looked at the structured style of cultivated gardens. Hampton Court Flower Show was a huge inspiration.’

Another exciting development for 2019 is the global launch of Cole & Son’s capsule collection of fabrics. The Contemporary collection of fabrics complement the company’s iconic wallpapers, offering a range of statement fabrics grouped into 12 palettes that include silk, velvet, linen and crisp cotton for upholstery and soft furnishings.

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