Archive : February 2011

10 Feb 2011
avatar Author: Colette Van Den Thillart
Creative Director

The chunkier the better….nautical rope like these hardy reels in Monaco are positively inspiring…



Oliver Messel’s terracotta tiles on the kitchen floors of Fustic are essentially one dimensional cable knit.  Really ravishing…not to mention practical.


Last winter Benetton had these cable knit props which got me thinking about WAYS to use cable knit…obviously looking for the less obvious.


An early pic from my digital library (hence unidentified)…this clever artist was doing some charming things with knits – do let me know if you can identify it!


Then in the fall Nicky and I spotted this Tricot Knitting Effect wallpaper by Koziel which comes in grisailles and sepia. 


Anthropology has been on the knit wagon this year too so you may be familiar with their knit candles…they are a delight.  Alas it’s all a bit trendy but I DO find a good knit hard to ignore.

8 Feb 2011
avatar Author: Nicky Haslam

For many years I have thought needlepoint and more specifically its finer baby brother petit point, the most relaxing and enjoyable pass-time. An especially good place to work at this more intricate version used to be on a longish day flight, as the clarity of that high air gives the best light, but now even those almost blunt needles are wrenched away from one at ‘Security’. But whether petit or gros, the point is to see one’s designs come alive by such an undemanding process, and spurs one on to fill in the ‘dull bits’, background etc with dogged determination, not to mention patience. And when the thing is completed, not only have you created a unique and personal gift, it’s the knowledge that it will give the recipient a special pride and pleasure. The following two pictures are examples of petit point I inherited from my parents. The dog is Victorian and the mat is Georgian.

My cousin Loelia, Duchess of Westminster was the most notable needle pointer of her day, she even used strands of her own dark hair to create shadows on her canvasses and was inordinately proud that the backs of them were as perfectly neat as the front.

I can’t pretend to be anything like as good as Old Lil, but I gamely follow in the footsteps of needlemen from William Morris and royal dukes to Kafe Fasset, whose patterns and designs are now famous the world over.


I recently worked a pair of petit point slippers for my great friend Bryan Ferry as a birthday present and had them made up by Fiona Dreesman of who is preparing a book on needlepoint called The Gentlemans Slipper.

Bryan’s are a dark blue and silver-gilt thread version of a pair I worked for myself eons ago, red, and emblazoned rather showily with my family coat-of-arms in gold! 

 And in fact the first pieces I ever worked myself were slippers of pale blue with silver rococo tendrils inspired by my initial visit to the Amalienburg in Munich. 

I also made the covering for a large footstool in the sitting room at the Hunting Lodge. It’s a trellis pattern with the silhouette of the house facade repeated round the border, and I’m somewhat ashamed to admit I resorted to ‘help’ in filling in the background colour. 


There is a great charity called Fine Cell Work , an organisation that teaches prisoners to create cushions, rugs etc in needlepoint at which they are extraordinarily skilful. The charity asks leading designers to contribute patterns for inmates to make up, and mine is a slightly scaled-down version of Dragonfly, one of my carpet designs created for The Rug Company

Also I see that the Stylebeat blog are mentioning needlepoint with wonderful ideas on how to design and make your own pieces. Whatever the scale and whatever the design, there is almost nothing so satisfying as pushing the needle into, and pulling the wool through, that last little square of bare canvass.

4 Feb 2011
avatar Author: Colette Van Den Thillart
Creative Director

I had to laugh…when I saw this beautifully executed room by Stephen Sills in last months Architectural Digest.  Two years ago when my Canadian cottage was photographed I had a bit of a last minute panic when I realised I had forgotten to plant acres of Martha Stewart type cutting gardens.  What was I thinking?? Well the horticultural perils of the Canadian shield had something to do with it but whatever!!  And not a florist to be found for MILES!!

My whole life weekends were spent driving to and from the city-admiring the bogs along side the highway in which grow fields of bullrushes.  I wondered were they too twee to use in the shoot – and yet really i thought they were terribly chic if you put aside visions of dry Victorian assemblages.  Was I crazy?? Luckily Nicky was only a text away.  ’Do you think there is any merit in bullrushes?? They ARE chocolate velvet after all‘ I send.   He texts back to say ‘That is SO weird. Coming back today I saw bullrushes by the road near Odiham and thought must get some for round the lake.  And remember the bullrush wall lights at Villa Corrine.’  So I was off!  Terrified in the bogs… I quickly cut the bare minimum…sadly I also didn’t have a decent vase so they ended up in this rather pathetic enamel jug.  Stephen outdid me on presentation without a doubt.  Live and learn.

Since then I’ve been collecting everything with bullrushes (spelt bulrush in the UK), the symbol of faithfulness and humility.


This divine font spotted on a sourcing trip to Belgium has been on my wall for years – sadly we didn’t have a place for it at the time.



Bullrushes on turquoise majolica! This is a cachepot I would definitely not leave behind.



And for all you crafters out there…you might whip up some of these miniatures…wouldn’t they be incredible as match sticks!!


Petticoat of white silver tissue, trimmed at the bottom with a deep silver fringe, headed with a wreath of bulrushes; festoons of the same tied up with silver tassels. From Regency Fashion.

Now I am not well versed enough in Regency dress to verify…but i am told that this dress features rosettes of bulrush-I hope its true…how wonderful.

And these shoes by Indecorous…are you kidding me?? I could write a PHD on these – plastic, cellophane, bullrushes…..darlings I’ve tried to write to enquire, to no avail.  DO contact me wont you?


And brilliant readers….you know this interior from Suzy Menkes book.  The Mill for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.  I have it in my head that John Fowler painted this.  Did I conjure it?? Well it’s delightful in every way. Heaven.

2 Feb 2011
avatar Author: Colette Van Den Thillart
Creative Director

There is SOMETHING about this state of a job that is slightly thrilling….of course its knowing what lies ahead, its about the potential.  On the other hand cement and plaster are such beautiful materials.  We are doing a cement floor in America right now, sculpted to look like rusticated quoining.  We’re really excited about it.

Dimos Natar obviously understands.  The designer has just done an entire collection inspired by the cement works of Zaha Hadid.



Its pretty easy to think of cement as cold, even imposing. Witness Albert Speers ‘ultimate dome’ as envisiaged for the Great Hall at Volkshalle.  It may have been based on the Pantheon but the scale is rather extreme!!

Le Corbusier obviously loved the material.  Personally I’m  no disciple of his ‘machine for living’ ethos, which is precisely why i studied his work extensively in France.  It didn’t change my mind, however it did make me appreciate the altogether sensory experience of his spaces; La Tourette for example being a deeply moving execution.  Many don’t realize that in person, many of his buildings bare the wood grain stamp of the planks used to cast the concrete which gives them a decidedly more human texture.


A recent discovery of mine is Spanish artist Ana Genoves.  I could absolutely see collaborating with her, based on her various concrete series.


And her ‘White Organizer’ is welcome on my desk any day.



Even at its most rudimentary texture and geometry cement rocks!