I’m a sucker for serendipity. Whenever coincidence shuffles around the chaos and arranges it neatly between the delineations of years, the thrilling fortuity is worth talking about. I find the “on this day” app functions or miniature “memory” curations conjured from the archives of the photos that my phone so judgingly retains unmanageably affecting. I can hardly bear to look at them for the swell of nostalgia they generate. For example, on this day five years ago, I was submitting my undergraduate dissertation and happened, last night, to have finished another sentimental re-read of the book on which it was centred. What symmetry! What comforting order!
This year, serendipity presents us with a series of milestone anniversaries for a few of my absolute favourite design companies. Some have longer histories than others, but all are celebrating in ways they know best, by creating new pieces, events, or collections informed by their past with their futures very much in mind.
First up is the 170th anniversary of Burleigh Pottery, the last pottery in the world to practice the rare decorating method of tissue transfer printing. The skill takes apprentices up to a decade to master and forms part of a wider decorating process steeped in history. One of the many Burleigh designs is etched into a copper roller, some of which are archive patterns that have stayed in circulation since the dawn of the pottery. The roller is then used to print the pattern onto fine tissue paper, which is then laid on the biscuitware before glazing. This year, the heritage pottery is celebrating its long history and the promise of an even longer future with a limited-edition mug, bearing the iconic Regal Peacock pattern. The mug, which retails for £45, is glazed to emulate ‘flow ware’, a mark of a decorating technique that was popular throughout Burleigh’s early history at Middleport Pottery in Staffordshire. It has always operated out of Middleport Pottery, which has seen huge investment and care from the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, allowing the company to thrive in the contemporary design landscape with new collections and collaborations with brands including Ralph Lauren.
Both Graham & Brown and Farrow & Ball are celebrating their 75th anniversaries this year (extra points!). The former has launched a new, limited-edition paint and wallpaper collection (from £40 per square metre and £48 per 2.5-litre pots respectively) called Through the Decades, which revisits some of the most impactful trends from each decade since the company’s establishment in 1946 and delves into its 35,000-piece archive for inspiration. Paula Taylor, the Colour and Trends Specialist at Graham & Brown, says, “developing this reflective collection has been really enjoyable for our team of designers as we look back to our own archives to bring the past to the present.” And what of the next 75 years at the prestigious design house? “Wellness and sustainability will continue to be the key trends defining our relationship with our homes,” Taylor explains. “We're beginning to see a real emphasis on sensory experience and how pattern, texture and colour can create mindful spaces.”
The latter, Farrow & Ball, an English paint brand also founded in 1946, is celebrating the very same milestone with its first collection of paint colours from an outside designer, Kelly Wearstler of Kelly Wearstler Studio. The California Collection, so coined for its dusky sunset shades of Palm, Citrona, Sand, and Faded Terracotta, comprises eight equally transportingly named shades, curated by Wearstler and starting from £28. For the collection, Wearstler took inspiration from California’s natural flora and fauna and its architectural features.
On a final note, Andrew Martin, the homewares brand and host of the annual Andrew Martin International Interior Designer of the Year Award will celebrate the award programme’s quarter-century milestone. For the 25th time, the Sunday Times-termed “Oscar of the interior design world” will be presented to one of the thousands of global applicants from all corners of the world at the end of this year, alongside the publication of the 25th Andrew Martin Interior Design Review, featuring the work of the top 100 practising designers, set to retail at £45 on publication. Last year, the renowned prize was awarded to Ben Wu, a Chinese designer with deep connections to Chinese art and a portfolio of projects that draw on Eastern philosophies and aesthetics. The Award is known for putting some of the most highly regarded interior designers firmly on the map, and previous winners include Axel Vervoordt, Kelly Hoppen, Rose Uniacke, Thomas Pheasant, Kit Kemp, and Nicky Haslam.
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