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30 years of exclusive designs at Linwood

Discover the stories and sources of inspiration that have shaped our enduring designs, as we retrace Linwood's 30-year journey of creating unique, inspired fabrics
30 years of exclusive designs at Linwood

Celebrating three decades of design excellence


From a small detail in 19th-century chintz to a timeless block print from Uzbekistan, the inspiration for our designs comes from far and wide. Over the last three decades, Linwood has carved out a reputation for fabulous prints imbued with rich, saturated hues; patterns that feel both reassuringly familiar yet refreshingly unique. Our design team still sketch and paint by hand, exploring different mediums until they have the perfect artwork which is then printed using state-of-the-art techniques that capture every subtle nuance in the pattern. Here, our Head of Design, Ella Richards, and Senior Designer, Jill Duffy-Unwin, reveal what inspired some of our most recent, glorious creations.


Big Top – from vintage detail to modern elegance

Sometimes it is a tiny detail on an archive textile that can capture the imagination of our design team, and this was certainly the case with Big Top from the Small Prints II collection. A delicate border on a traditional cotton chintz from the 1800s caught Ella’s eye: ‘I thought let’s just see what it would look like if it was blown up much bigger,’ she recounts. ‘It was an experiment, but Jill and I absolutely loved how it looked.’ Adapting what was originally a vertical design was the next challenge: ‘We wanted it to work in all directions to make it more free-flowing and natural,’ notes Ella, who hand-painted the artwork to give a sense of movement to the colours. The resulting linen print, which comes in 12 colourways including Ludo, pictured, has an organic quality that lends itself beautifully to all manner of soft furnishings: think window treatments, seating or a gorgeous, oversized headboard. ‘We kept all the little dots in the original print – I think they are what give this design its quirk,’ notes Jill, adding, ‘What began as very classical imagery has become something really quite contemporary.’ 


Wild – an auspicious discovery

This is the tale of a design that almost slipped through our fingers. Ella had spotted a beautiful Kalamkari – a type of hand-painted cotton textile produced in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh – in an auction, but she was pipped to the post by an American buyer. ‘I contacted her to say that if she ever decided she didn’t want it, I would love to buy it – and she replied offering to sell it to me,’ she recounts, adding, ‘I was rather happy as I was in love with the design.’ It is easy to see why: the stylised imagery of lions, exotic birds and flowers has a beguiling quality that has translated beautifully into Wild, a luxurious cotton velvet. It comes in two colourways: Multi features a pale background that lends a freshness to the vibrant pinks, blues, greens and yellows, while Midnight (pictured) has a moody, inky base that allows the jewel-like hues to pop. We love this design for curtains or blinds and also a statement piece of seating such as an oversized sofa. And the best part? It is now available as an arresting wallpaper, too. 


Buttons – reinventing a classic motif

It was a 1930s trellis-style motif that was the inspiration for our inviting Buttons print. ‘We liked the asymmetrical bubble shapes, which give it an informal feel,’ recalls Ella. ‘When I repainted it, I made sure to keep that characteristic.’ Slightly scaled up from the original document, and printed onto pure linen, this is one of those indispensable, neat prints you want in your design arsenal: it is perfect for tempering a large-scale design, for example, yet works equally well when coordinated with plains and other small prints in an informal scheme. The six colourways, which include Mint, Pink Icing and this gorgeous Lapis blue, have a freshness that give the design its currency: ‘The colours give the print its liveliness,’ agrees Jill. ‘It’s a really charming design.’


Kami – a canvas of colours and cultures

We pride ourselves on our beautiful selection of printed velvets, and inspiration for their designs comes from far and wide. In the case of Kami, it was an Oriental textile belonging to the archive of a collector: ‘It was a print on a heavy linen velvet that was probably originally some kind of floor covering,’ recounts Ella, who worked with Jill to revise the pattern, reinventing its dark, moody palette into no less than 19 different colourways. ‘The choice of medium was watercolour, which works really well because it lends movement and also gives a nice layering of the colours overlapping each other,’ notes Jill. ‘It took quite a while to paint, but it was a very enjoyable process.’ The rich pattern brings an exotic flavour to all manner of pieces, from statement upholstery – witness this classic sofa in the beguiling Seagreen colourway – to cosy curtains or blinds. 


Songbird – simplicity meets elegance in velvet

The slightly naïve style of our whimsical Songbird design was inspired by a crewelwork wall hanging Ella purchased from California. ‘We thought this would work really well as a velvet fabric as it can carry off the simplicity of the imagery as well as the large scale of the design,’ says Jill, who tried different mediums to create the artwork before choosing watercolours, which capture the fluidity of the original piece. The large-scale print brings a sense of drama, yet the fabric’s earthy tones are also calming, making it a design that sits happily in pale, knocked-back schemes such as the one pictured above. ‘The exciting news is that we are currently planning to develop this into a wallpaper,’ adds Ella. So, watch this space.


Rubia – timeless charm from a historical find

Sometimes we come across an archive design that needs very little tweaking to make it relevant to today’s interior schemes. That was certainly the case with Rubia from the Bibi collection of printed linens. The original document was a 1920s bedcover from Uzbekistan. ‘It was really good quality and the layout worked well, as did the scale: it looks great on all sorts of soft furnishings, from curtains to upholstery and cushions,’ says Jill. The design has been produced in nine colourways (pictured here is Ochre) printed on a gorgeous slubby linen, with state-of-the-art techniques capturing the quirks of the original design. ‘It has a lovely character, with a wonderful irregularity,’ Ella approves, adding, ‘It is one of my favourite designs.’


Khiva – embracing tradition with a modern twist


Khiva is another design that borrows from the motifs found in traditional hand block printed textiles from Uzbekistan: ‘This was a very old bed cover dating to the 1920s or 1930s and it had some really beautiful elements to it,’ explains Ella. ‘We homed in on just one area of the print because we wanted to create a simple, relatively small-scale pattern.’ The original textile had inevitably faded over time: ‘We revised the artwork by darkening the outline of the design, as this is one of the well-known characteristics of prints from this region,’ Jill observes. The resulting printed linen, Khiva, comes in five colourways including Grass, the perfect hue for bringing the outdoors into the home. See it teamed here with coral pinks for a scheme that effortlessly blends traditional and contemporary styles.


We hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into Linwood’s design world, one that sees the team take inspiration from the past to create designs that embrace the present. The walls of our creative studio are covered with yet more treasures: gorgeous patterns that are just waiting to be transformed into new fabrics and wallpapers. We can’t wait for you to see what is coming next…