Fabrics, Walls & Floors
Gayle Warwick
Beautifully crafted linens, made to last

As a child Gayle Warwick often spent Thanksgiving and Christmas at her grandmother’s house, where dinner would be served on a love-worn, hand-embroidered tablecloth. But it wasn’t until years later on a visit to Vietnam in 1995 that she really began to understand the level of craftsmanship involved in creating such a spectacular piece. ‘The tablecloths that I saw were covered in exquisite embroidery that took hours and hours but the fabrics being used were cheap. I thought, if you’re going to do all this extraordinary decorative work, it should be on a base that will last,’ recalls Gayle. The idea for her eponymous linen business was born. It took three years of research and planning before there was a product to sell; first, she tried unsuccessfully to source high-quality organic cotton and then decided to weave her own.

 

‘I was a bit naive in wanting to do organic cotton and didn’t realise what it was going to take,’ continues Gayle. ‘It certainly wasn’t a commercial decision, more a labour of love.’ She teamed up with spinners and weavers in Switzerland who used a unique construction to produce a very crisp percale and smooth, soft sateen. That exclusive weave, which is still made today, quickly became her signature. Over time, the under-the-radar brand has expanded its range to encompass so much more than textiles for bedding and dining, with hand embroidered cushion covers, organic towels and cashmere throws sold alongside napkins, placemats, duvet covers and sheets.

We marry original designs and time consuming craftsmanship with fabrics that are either sustainable, like organic cotton, or beautiful linens

Gayle now works with her daughters – Eliza, who looks after sales, and Megan, who is in charge of operations and finance – and has a global network of skilled artisans and craftsmen: embroiderers in Vietnam, block printers in India and weavers in Italy, Thailand and Belgium. ‘We marry original designs and time-consuming craftsmanship with fabrics that are either sustainable, like organic cotton, or beautiful linens that are made all over the world. We try to find the right partners who can weave fabrics that are a little bit different,’ says Gayle, citing a new line of woven cashmere as an example.

 

Teaming up with a weaver in London, the cashmere has been made to large block print patterns inspired by Josef Albers’ colour field paintings (Gayle has a background in art history and her design ideas come from all kinds of sources – whether it’s an English country garden or the jewellery gallery in the V&A Museum). Also new this year is a collection of block printed bed and table linen, made by a third-generation artisan in India. ‘Each of the steps, from carving the blocks to mixing the paint colours is done by hand,’ explains Gayle. ‘There are no short cuts: we always try to do the best we can with any particular craft.’

A large part of the business involves custom work for interior designers (such as Nicky Haslam, Francis Sultana and Todhunter Earle) looking to commission personalised linens for clients’ houses, yachts and private planes but there is plenty in the range to suit all design tastes too. This includes an Art Deco-style set of ‘Patricia’ napkins named after Gayle’s mother, which re-imagine the heirloom tablecloths from her childhood. This is a collection of beautiful linens, designed to be treasured for years.

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