Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pattern Profusion

Thinking about my last post on Sophie Digard's textile creations, I wondered where I would imagine seeing her work. I certainly imagine of her fabrics in a real textile lover's home. I got to picturing the way many textile lovers and collectors display their treasures in a way that amounts to a kaleidoscope of color and pattern. This can get oppressive but I think the above picture shows it is all a question of tone and degree.

Collector-decorator-textile specialist Michel Biehn's home/boutique in the charming antiquing town, l' Ile-sur-la-Sorgue in Provence, was sold in 2008. I was there for the first time only this August, so I missed it! It must have been impressive to see the textiles and objects made with as he says "hand and soul" collected since his teen years. Biehn didn't hesitate to mix all sorts of fabrics as the buttoned hound's tooth on the Syrian armchairs from the 30s proves above. The cushion with the circular patterns is Pendjabi; the orange one is Azara (Nomadic Afghan).
As a decorator, Biehn recommends working from a favorite fabric as a point of depart for a room.

His shop looked like a real Ali Baba's cave. The armoire is filled with Provencal quilts from 18Th and 19Th centuries; an Anatolian blanket and Sindh cushions are placed on a a Spanish velvet bench. Since closing shop, Michel Biehn is working on other projects. Something tells me he may still be in the process of selling his collections. His website, La Maison Biehn, is still up and is a delight to see. He is working on a guest house in Fez that combines with a Turkish bath, café, and exposition space.
Biehn is also an author. He has written many interesting books found in English on costume, lifestyle, and cuisine in the south of France. As one who likes good things and in quantity, he has written Healthy Recipes from the South of France (Mincir de plaisir). Since he managed to trim down considerably, it's probably a good book to know about for those of us who want to be reasonable epicureans!

These two have yet to be translated: La conversation des objets: Ou les confessions d'un collectioneur (autobiographical) and Cruelle coqueterie: les artifices de la contrainte (concerning cultural visions of beauty and how we torture ourselves to attain it or il faut souffrir pour être belle).

In general, my favorite way to mix pattern doesn't forget to play off textures against one another.
Suede, damask, a remnant of tapestry, velvet, embroidered mohair...
photo David George

A patchwork of oriental carpets makes for an interesting staircase
photo Andrew Wood

Allegra Hicks expertly mixes her own designs in various weights and fibers with traditional textiles.
Here we see a cintamani embroidered cloth used as a bed cover and Indian silk tussah hangings along side geometric motifs. The foremost cushion is painted with a linear design called Emblem on raw silk. Monochrome shades of yellow keep a restful spirit for the bedroom.

More patterns for the bedroom - this time in contrasting dominants of green and red. Where to you prefer to rest your head?
3 photos Bill Batten


  1. Well, right now my upstairs hall daybed is on textile overload- oh my, I am not sure what to do- I may need an Intervention from le style... I need to edit! the cat has even bolted. GT

  2. I'm surprised the cat didn't just settle down on everything after making biscuits. Maybe it's better to keep those claws away. I'm sure you have some beautiful things!