by Sonal ShahJun 11, 2020
Using inspirations from nature and travel, varied cultures and indigenous art forms across the globe, Tricia Guild combines colour, pattern, texture and shape 'in an intriguing alchemy' that brings spaces 'alive with character, soul and dynamic glamour'.
What drew me to her ensembles a few decades ago was a common passion – flowers. She believes, as I do, “Nothing can bring a room alive more instantly than flowers.” Be it through imagery, motifs, colour combinations or naturally arranged blooms – floral inspirations of every type have been a leitmotif of her style.
Tricia Guild started Designers Guild in 1970, “because, working as an interior designer I just couldn’t find upholstery fabrics, which I really felt excited about, so decided to make them up myself. This led to my first collection, which was Indian block printed designs.” She convinced her brother, Simon, then a full-time banker, to join her and oversee the business angle. “I had no idea if we would be successful, but even at that time envisaged more than just fabrics or linen. I was always passionate about my surroundings, but back then, when I started my shop at the Kings Road, London, there was no real concept of 'lifestyle' as we know it today. But I was interested in putting together a style, in crafting a look and that is still our endeavour.”
Sonal Shah (SS): Tell us about the philosophy behind Designers Guild.
Tricia Guild (TG): The concept of our business has always remained the same – to offer beautiful and contemporary products for the home that are of the utmost quality. Originality, creativity, innovation, a focus on colour, pattern and artistry have all been and continue to be, constant elements in our design process. Our broad offering has been key to the company’s success. Continuous effort at novel designs and maintaining top quality is what makes our brand stand out and ensures that our customers know they can believe in what we do. We are distributed in over 80 markets worldwide, which brings with it a vast range of requirements – we take this on board and try to ensure our collections can deliver a targeted response to each market.
SS: Give us a brief peak into your design process – from conceptualisation to product.
TG: Each collection takes many months of work. And of course, as each design develops and grows, they can sometimes take on a different form than what you originally meant for them. It’s so rewarding to see a collection come together and to see everyone’s hard work reflected in that. Our work starts in the studio and then is taken over by our product development and creative teams. As a Creative Director I am involved in all aspects of the business. I head the studio, product development, and photography and retail teams. Designers Guild is my passion – I live and breathe it. I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to be able to do what I love everyday.
SS: What was the high point in your career?
TG: One of the proudest moments was being awarded an OBE from the Queen, for services to interior design in 2008. That particular moment will stay with me for life – it was an incredible honour to be at Buckingham Palace and to be recognised for my endeavours.
SS: What are you working on now?
TG: Designers Guild celebrates its 50th anniversary next year (2020), and we have been extremely fortunate in that the Fashion and Textile Museum in London are displaying a retrospective exhibition of our work. There will be an accompanying book too, that charts our 50 years in design. So, there is a lot to work on at the moment.
SS: What new technologies are likely to impact the design process in the near future?
TG: Sustainability is a huge issue. In Spring 2019, we were proud to launch an innovative recycled fabric collection, Lisbon. The collection comprises three different designs, all of which are woven in Italy from yarns recycled from the fashion industry. We worked with our supplier who developed accredited techniques to break down and revive redundant textiles into good quality yarns. It is estimated that 10-20 per cent of all fashion industry textiles ultimately end up as waste, whilst 95 per cent of land filled textiles are in fact suitable for recycling.
SS: Would you like to give any advice to the new aspiring generation of designers?
TG: Determination, resilience, motivation, creativity and a focus on quality are all key factors in my view. I also think that young designers need to be commercially savvy – there is a delicate balance between being creative, business minded and globally aware. Commercialism seems a negative word but in actuality, you want to earn money from your craft and to do that you have to be business minded. The modern world is extremely pressurised for young designers and business owners, consumers are much more design aware than ever before; so I think an unwavering determination to succeed is paramount.”
Designers Guild is prolific and diverse in their offerings, launching new collections every six months – including furnishings, wallpapers, ceramics… and Tricia Guild continues to remain hands on, often going to the printers to oversee colour shades before the first metre of cloth is rolled out. It is this passion and commitment to detail that sets Tricia and her Designers Guild apart from most others in the field. We look forward to seeing their special collection to mark their five decades of existence.
Did you know? Tricia Guild…
- has written 18 books
- Soft Furnishings, her first tome, was released in 1982
- the latest, In My View was published in 2019
- an indophile; she has travelled extensively through the villages of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Bengal
- the design process for each collection takes almost a year
- Designers Guild still retains their original store in Kings Road, London that they started in the 1970s
Click here to read more articles in the series 'Luminaries of Our Times'.