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Prints Charming

07.09.22

Seamlessly fusing rich patterns with a kaleidoscope of colour, Matthew Williamson’s iconic designs bring a touch of contemporary decadence to interior spaces. Julia Millen spoke to the celebrated designer to find out more

How would you describe your signature style?

Nothing I do is ever too shiny or too new. It’s about two words: rustic and decadent, I try to bring the two extremes to every product and every home or venue I design. Each product I create will find its natural home within the given interior, making a bold statement in a discourse with the rest of the room. Key to this, is the combination of rich, sumptuous colours and rugged, textural pieces which contrast with one another.

I love sourcing pieces that are special to me; they act as a collage of my style and tastes, ultimately creating an overall story-book look in a home.

How you approach the design process?

I love the rub of old against new, of dark against light, and of refined against rough, so that principle often guides my process. Stepping out of your comfort zone to play with pattern, shape, texture and colour, brings a fresh feel to the home. Introducing antiques and vintage pieces into the conversation with contemporary art and colour palettes, ultimately tells a personal story, whilst leaving room to experiment.

How did your collaboration with John Lewis come about?

I have always shopped in John Lewis, be it for bed linen, the perfect basic tee or for kids’ clothes. It’s been such a mainstay, and I wanted to put my stamp on a collection that I felt could encourage shoppers to add a little more colour and pattern into their homes.

What makes your John Lewis collection unique?

I wanted to create a collection of impactful pieces that would work beautifully in different environments to instantly change up the look and feel of a space. Ultimately, it all comes back to my mother, who has inspired so much of my work. Watching her get ready for work when I was a child, she used colour as a tool. It lifted her spirits and the spirits of those around her, and to this day, it has the same powerful effect on me.

Do you have a favourite item from the collection?

I really can’t choose. The joy of the collection is that each piece will find a home amongst your pre-existing furniture and accessories, or will work together with other accessories you buy from the collection. Of course, each piece is statement-making in its own right. Each one of them appeals to a different facet of my personality.

Where do you look for inspiration?

For such a diverse offering of homeware, I drew on inspirations from all areas of my life. My travels to India played a huge part in the creation of the Kantha Bedspreads and the DNA Monkey Cushion. The country is so full of vitality, colour and heritage that has seeped into my sketches for a lifetime. British flora and fauna have also inspired many of the fabric designs. The Woodland Red Twig Mirror immortalises my daughter’s collection of twigs that she keeps in a treasure box, and the red finish effect is taken from pieces of lacquered Morrocan furniture that I’ve always coveted.

How do you keep your designs fresh?

Throughout the design process, I search far and wide for inspirations across time and place. However, I never look to time periods or aesthetic movements too deeply, as this can spiral into pastiche or parody. To keep my designs eclectic and unexpected, it’s important to combine both historical influence and vivid imagination.

Do you prefer designing for a particular room?

Designing products and rooms requires very different disciplines. Often, product design comes with additional limitations, such as the scale of the piece or the materials at my disposal, whereas interior design can feel more organic, less set in stone. Ultimately, the user or client needs to feel like they have invested in something really special that brings a smile to their face, whether that’s a single cushion or an entire room layout.

What advice would you give to someone wishing to emulate your look at home?

It’s about finding pieces that are special to you, that speak to you, and not being too concerned with whether accessories match or sit perfectly together. When you forget about what you ‘should’ be doing, that’s when the magic happens.

What colours and design trends can we expect to see in the next 12 months?

Maximalism simply isn’t going away, so expect more rich patterns, glorious colour pairings and global influence, from English country houses to Spanish fincas and Chinoiserie to all-American glamour.

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