Barneby Gates Q&A
This month we’ve welcomed home-grown brand Barneby Gates to our online shop, delivering a modern twist on traditional designs. Fancy a fish motif in the bathroom, or perhaps a stag to set the scene in the boot room? We love Barneby Gates wallpaper & fabric for making a dramatic statement, with colours worthy of any Victoriana-inspired home.
A winning team of two thoroughly creative designers, Vanessa Barneby has an enviable CV that includes Vogue Living Editor and interiors stylist at House & Garden. Working alongside is Alice Gates, whose illustrations have already graced the pages Vogue and Tatler. We recently spoke with Vanessa to gain an insight into life as a designer.
As a former fashion trend predictor, where do you see British interiors going in the next year?
In recent years, we’ve seen a far more freestyle attitude to interiors take shape. People now strive for that organic ‘thrown together’ look, mixing antique with modern, up-cycled and recycled for an altogether more unique mix. This has driven the trend in wallpaper – which began as feature walls being a great way to transform a space and give it your own stamp. Now, as feature walls become a thing of the past, and trends turn full circle, papering all 4 walls and – even better – the ceiling as well, is gaining popularity. Eccentricity has always been so very British aristocracy, but the ingredients that make a look eccentric – mixing prints and styles, clashing colours, layering textures – are something many people are now setting out to achieve. We’ve recently had a customer purchase all five of our fabric designs in various colours to make cushions for one sofa – such a great look, and a real sign of our times. There are no rules!
What made you decide to keep your wallpapers British-made and does this bring any challenges?
It was always important for us to produce our collections in the UK – not only for the incredible quality (and quality control), but also because, as British designers, we appreciate the importance of supporting British manufacturers. The only challenge this brings is that of course it’s more expensive to produce in the UK, but the quality and service we get far outweighs any cost implications.
What would be your advice for striking the balance between modern and traditional?
One thing we have always strived not to be is trendy. We want our designs to stand the test of time, not just a fleeting season. Many of our designs have a traditional starting point - such as a damask or a trellis – and then we give it a modern or humorous twist, as in Deer Damask or Horse Trellis. These are designs that have proved equally popular across a range of age groups, and have been used in hip urban pads as much as traditional country retreats. The aim is to strike a balance, and not go too modern or too traditional, and I hope we have succeeded!
How much do you see your rural studio location shared with the public through your designs?
In so many ways! We both grew up and now live in the countryside, and our studio is on a working farmyard – throughout the winter we literally share the yard with 20 cows. So, much of our inspiration comes from nature and the countryside around us – see Wild Meadow, Boxing Hares, The English Robin, Honey Bees, Fox & Hen…But we glean inspiration from so many other things too - art, travel, fashion – a bit of everything.
What experience have you taken from working in past collaborations that you have found most valuable?
We’ve done a few really fun collaborations in the past. One of our first was working with the work of artist Julie Verhoeven, turning one of her illustrations – originally designed as a fashion shoot backdrop – into a wallpaper, for the photographer Nick Knight’s 2009 exhibition ‘Fashion: a Retrospective’ at Somerset House. More recently, we worked with the US based fashion house Rag & Bone to create a bespoke wallpaper for a few of their stores in America and London. Each project has been so different, but what I can say is that it’s a huge pleasure working with such a range of inspiring people, and perhaps that is what we treasure most from those collaborations.
Barneby Gates' extra helpings of artistic flair come out in each print, whether cleverly linking greyhound heads for an optical illusion or placing a fox and hen in endless chase. These hand-crafted pieces are fun – they can’t help but raise a smile and will keep visitors entertained.
We can’t wait to hear your reaction to the wide variety of styles available, from stars and alphabet letters to toppling chairs, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Click the links to see the Barneby Gates Wallpaper Collection & Barneby Gates Fabric Collection.