Monday, 15 October 2012

Painted Cushions for Chelsea

NEW Painted Cushions for Solid ID shop in Chelsea

Melissa White painted sack cushions
painted cushions at Solid ID

Having blogged incessantly about my Zoffany Arden Collection for most of the year, it's time, methinks to share some of the other stuff I've been up to at the Fairlyte Studio.

First off I've been supplying my wares to:

273 Fulham Road, London SW10 9PZ, 020 7351 3045

Melissa White painted bench cushions
painted cushions (detail)

Newly opened in Spring this lifestyle shop in chic Chelsea is the new venture from the people behind bespoke flooring company Solid Floor

Solid ID offers "an idiosyncratic array of furniture, lighting, tableware and accessories, with a focus on handmade, one-off pieces."

Solid ID shop interiors
Solid ID interior

In this post I'll quickly show you around the shop then maybe next time I'll take you behind the scenes at my studio.

Melissa White painted cushions at Solid ID
bench cushions and cushion stack

The shop sells all sorts of bits and bobs including the painted and distressed benches above. I've supplied cushions for these painted with various patterns on rustic linens. Also pictured above are my cushion stacks painted with coordinating designs in lime green and indigo on linen, wool and silk. 

Melissa White painted cushions at Solid ID
painted cushion pads
Above are my painted boxy cushion pads that come in matching sets of three and below are various large cushions made with re-cycled grain sacks. Each sack is different and the texture of the weave dictates the kind of design I can paint on it. They're great fun as I can get big and bold with the more gnarly ones!

Melissa White painted sack cushions at Solid ID
grain sack cushions
 Amongst some top notch products Solid ID stocks wallpaper by fellow Hastings gal Deborah Bowness (below right) and the jars are painted to shop owner Eelke's whim by Hastings' Nick Kadomtzeff at Signwork:

Solid ID interior
Sign written jars and wallpaper by Deborah Bowness 
You may have spotted Solid ID at this years Design Junction which was THE place to be and be seen during September's London Design Week:

Solid ID stand at Design Junction 2012
Design Junction 2012: Solid ID stand (photo by Solid ID)

Keep an eye on Solid ID. These guys have big visions, a dynamic and fun approach to design and they are an exciting team to work with.

Prices from £65 for a 12" painted silk cushion.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Homes and Gardens Fabric Award


We've won BEST PRINTED FABRIC in the Homes and Gardens Fabric Awards 2012!  


The award is for our lovely VERDURE print from the Arden Collection

There was a champagne breakfast at the Royal Hospital State Apartments in Chelsea, then I accepted the award along with marketing director Victoria Blair and Zoffany designer Lorraine Kerr who helped develop our original artwork for print. We were just part of the fab team behind Arden.

Homes and Gardens did a lovely feature about me at the studio back in April 2012.

You can read it HERE

This design is also nominated for the Elle Decoration British Design Award which I featured in my last post

(Voting is now closed for the  Elle Decor award and of the thirty nominated designs the six with the most votes will be unveiled in the December issue, on sale October 31).

Our original artwork for the Verdure design

CONGRATS also to Zoffany's sister brand Sanderson for winning Best Small-Print Fabric for Tribeca from Colour for Living. I love this funky collection!

Tribeca fabric by Sanderson
Sanderson Colour for Living Collection

Friday, 31 August 2012

Vote for Verdure! Elle Decor British Design Awards

We've been nominated!

The nominated VERDURE wallpaper is one of the designs from our Arden Collection created with Zoffany. For full details about the awards check out this month's Elle Decoration (out now) or see the Elle Decor website 

If you like this design and our collection please:
Vote Now

 (Voting ends September 24th)

Verdure wallpaper in tapestry green
The design comes digitally printed in two colourways on 140 cms wide, non-woven wallpaper (above). It is also available digitally printed on 100% linen (below in lead blue colourway)

Verdure upholstered chair 

About the Verdure Design

Verdure (from an old French word for greenery) is a design based on a late 17th century English painted cloth. At the peak of their popularity these “stayned” linen cloths were nailed floor to ceiling around entire rooms. Shakespeare mentions painted cloths in several plays and Henry VIII lists them in his inventories proving that they were not "poor men's tapestries". 

Very few survive due to their fragile nature. The subject matter included religious themes, hunting scenes or pictorial subjects such as our lush pastoral landscape with a church and waterfall (better seen in this close up of the wallpaper).

Verdure with Verner Panton chair
The best surviving example of a verdure painted cloth can be found in its original setting at the magnificent  Owlpen Manor  in the Cotswolds. 

painted cloths at Owlpen Manor 

The wonderful Owlpen cloths tell the story of Joseph and his technicolour coat. A few years ago David and I were commissioned to reproduce them for a re-display project at Blakesley Hall museum in Birmingham:

our Blakesley Hall painted cloths
David and me installing the cloths
These Verdure designs are definitely my favourite of the period. The scenes are a joy to paint as they have such lovely painterly motifs and harmonious colours. I know David was very fond of these designs too.

It was an interesting challenge to put fragments of an original verdure into repeat. We then painted it on unbleached linen canvas with watery paints so that the weave would show through as in the "stayned" originals. 

Painting the original artwork for Verdure
With Zoffany we tried various colourways including a very odd purple one but it really worked best in its original emerald and earthy greens ("tapestry green") and in a faded, somewhat scandinavian "lead blue".

Verdure strikeoffs at Zoffany headquarters with other Arden designs

For a 350 year old design it is remarkably on trend today with its folksy, fairytale narrative.

A bucolic snapshot of Old England

Definitely one of my favourites....remember to vote if you like it too :)

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


This was my final scheduled trip presenting the Arden Collection for Zoffany. 
And what an adventure to be sent to Moscow!

St Basil's Cathedral and the Moscow sign
The event was called DECORUS, a glamorous, high calibre show for design industry professionals. Its organisers are the dynamic Natasha and James Kimberly who launched Decorus two years ago.

Presenting Arden at Decorus

I gave my talk explaining the history behind Arden's Elizabethan/Jacobean designs and the multi-lingual Natasha translated into Russian.

Meanwhile Alison Keane (Export Sales Manager for Sanderson/Zoffany/Morris) worked her magic selling pattern books and opening accounts with the Russian interior design world.

Then it was off to explore Moscow with my fella....

Kremlin panorama

First we were keen to see some Russian art at the State Tretyakov Gallery

Some obligatory giant historic scenes of uprising, subjugation and execution:

The Morning of the Execution of the Streltsy in 1698 by Vasiliy Suriko

...then some giant biblical scenes:

The Appearance of Christ to the People by A. Ivanov
....and finally walls and walls of portraits, my favourites being these lovely ladies by Vladimir Borovikovsky:

Vladimir Borovikovsky busts!
I revelled in the rich detail of the fabrics and flowers. It was a such a treat to be allowed to take pictures in an art gallery (at an extra cost of 200rubels).

Here are more details of costume and furnishings by various Russian artists. Inspiration for a new collection perhaps.

Details from the Tretyakov Gallery
On our last day we entered the Kremlin and were blown away by the abundance of floor to ceiling frescoes and icons in its many churches. Thankfully we weren't allowed to take pictures inside or I'd still be there now!

Here's a hint anyway...

....golden domes gleaming even on a rainy day!

Golden domes inside the Kremlin
In transit of course we took in the famous Moscow Metro, a powerful symbol of the Communist dream. There are frescoes, mosaics, statues of Communist heroes and reliefs of revolutionaries and all over the place powerful symbolic bundles of wheat. The metro is pristine, graffiti and advert free - lovely!

Melissa and Alison in the Moscow metro

So we ticked many boxes in our two days exploring Moscow. Our visit was challenging and the atmosphere around the Kremlin was quite intense but the city revealed many hidden treasures and remains a source of intrigue.

As Churchill famously said of Russia:

It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma

Thank you to Alison for looking after us
Thank you to James for vodka and pickles at Cafe Pushkin
Thank you to Natasha for inviting me to Decorus when we met at Paris Deco Off

...and thank you to Zoffany for this amazing opportunity!

Monday, 4 June 2012

ARDEN ON TOUR ~ Stockholm

I'm just back from a trip to Stockholm to present the Arden Collection for Zoffany.

Showroom: Verdure fabric
This city is fresh and open and, as a collection of small islands, there's water everywhere. My fella and I were shameless tourists for three days before I donned my Zoffany hat for the final two.

Stockholm from the Norrstrom river

Our hosts for the presentation were Frank and Cordinata, a packed-to-the-rafters interiors showroom in the heart of the city.

They invited an enthusiastic audience for the cocktail evening and then an A-list of journalists for their press breakfast the following day. I gave my talk to both audiences and the collection was well received by all.

Hopefully Arden will be appearing in the top Swedish mags over the next few months.

Showroom: Arden in red and pewter

I was tickled by this clever costumed interpretation of some of the Arden wallpapers:

Showroom: Dummy dressed in Merchant's Stripe and Filigree

So Stockholm!...There's loads to see but here are some of my creative highlights.

SKANSEN, open air museum

A painted ceiling in the late 17th century iron master's farmstead.

Where the English tradition of wall painting thinned out after the Elizabethans, it continued in Scandinavia and seems to have evolved in a sweeter and more refined style. Here's a lovely example of a birds and flowers design somewhat softened by time but very finely executed.

(note to self: must dig out my Scandinavian Decor books and actually read them not just look at the pretty pictures!).

The Vasa Museum 

This extremely popular museum holds a stunning warship that sank a mile out of harbor on her maiden voyage in 1628.

The ship is abundant with carved decoration which may well have been what caused her to keel over. She was raised again in 1961 and no photo can quite capture how immense this ship is and how incredibly well she is preserved. I was particularly drawn to the rich carvings and the gnarly patination of the wood. 

Vasa Museum

Nordiska Museum

So glad I came here. A great introduction to the folk art of Sweden. Lots of painted fabric and furniture to inspire and such a fresh and consistent colour palette. This reflects the limited pigments available from leaves, bark, soot, earth and red lead. Definitely feel a new collection for Rowan coming on.

painted wall hanging. The three holy kings
distemper paintings on paper and cloth

Also in the Nordiska museum was a display of dolls houses. Not my usual bag but absolutely fell in love with the oldest one on show made in the late 17th century.

This was, of course, a toy but also a learning tool for teaching young girls about being a housewife!

I'm tempted to try painting some of these designs full scale. They are so full of energy!

That'll do for now.... time to go into the delish food (I'm a herring convert!) and the friendly locals and the other museums and the blah blah blah.

Big thanks to Pauline and the lovely people at Frank and Cordinata who were great fun and very organised.

Thanks also to Chris Warren (Zoffany's export sales director) and Verity Scrase (from PR agents Murray Weir Willats) who arranged the trip and helped with the presentations.

...and finally a red squirrel at Skansen...I can't tell you how thrilled we were to spot this little fella...nearly had my toe off though!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

ARDEN ON TOUR: Stags in Sussex

On a soggy foggy Wednesday morning I popped up from Hastings to Frant near Tunbridge Wells to give a talk about the Arden Collection and Elizabethan painted interiors.

Our host for this coffee morning was Mary Ensor Interiors.

Mary Ensor Interiors from the outside

The showroom of this respected 30 year old practice exudes style and elegance. Their palette is muted and sophisticated with playful undertones and it was interesting to see which designs from Arden they had chosen to reflect their look.

In the window hangs the medieval style Arden design in pewter, one of the more refined colourways in linen with some versatile golds and indigos to pull out in a scheme.

Arden linen in window display
In another corner of the window our 16th century Saffron Walden design on linen (in charcoal) demonstrates its modern credentials hung behind a shapely retro piped armchair in pearl grey.

Saffron Walden fabric in window display
 Below is the linen Cinquefoils (in sandstone) set behind beachy neutrals, the glass reflecting the watery feel of this design which we painted in thin, transparent glazes.

Cinquefoils in sandstone
A few more shots of the showroom with Mary Ensor's new owner Lisa (left) and Anya.

Around the Mary Ensor showroom
…then upstairs to give my talk to an audience of 30 enthusiastic customers. But not before coffee and treats supplied by Sussex based cake makers Fabulous Bakes. (A great idea for an indulgent gift by post).

Cakes by Fabulous Bakes
SUBLIME!! but beware becoming dusted in icing sugar after a scoffing frenzy!

Next stop...Stockholm!

Many thanks to Helen Short, Zoffany's area sales rep for Sussex who set up the event, to the Mary Ensor ladies for looking after us and to our audience for being so attentive.

For stockists visit the Zoffany website or call head office on 0844 543 4600.

Alternatively email me at