Designer Desire: Sheila Bownas

Mosaic of Sheila Bownas textile designs | H is for Home

What a coincidence that, just a week after our trip to the Yorkshire Dales, we’re featuring one of its local creatives.

Sheila Bownas (1925-2007) was a fine artist and surface pattern designer from the village of Linton in Craven near Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales. In 1946, she won a scholarship to London’s Slade School of Fine Art where she won further awards which included a year’s extension to study History of Art in Florence. She freelanced as a textile and wallpaper designer for companies such as Liberty and Co., Marks and Spencer and Laura Ashley. She also worked for the Natural History Museum in the 1960s, creating botanical studies. She returned to Linton in the 1970s, where she settled unobtrusively for the rest of her life. She was the only child of the village shopkeepers, she never married nor had children of her own.

Some of Sheila Bownas’ design archive was rediscovered by Chelsea Cefai, an art gallery professional, when it came up for sale at an auction house in Ilkley in 2008. Cefai purchased some 210 of her original textile pattern prints and slowly set about researching the designer and celebrating her designs.

Bonas was indefatigable in her efforts to secure salaried employment. She apparently applied for around jobs in the 1950s and 60s. In 1959 in yet another rejection letter, this time from Crown Wallpaper, Bonas was told:

Thank you for your letter enclosing your design… I have decided to retain this design so would you please let us have your invoice? With reference to your desire to obtain a position in our studio, the Director feels that should an appointment be made at all, a male designer would be preferable…

Last summer, a retrospective of her work was shown at Rugby Art Gallery & Museum and is currently showing at Harrogate’s Mercer Art Gallery until 7th January 2018. If you’re unable to make it, a catalogue of the exhibition is available.

Cefai has set about collaborating with artists & designers reintroducing Bonas’ work in limited-edition prints, furniture, ceramics and other homewares.

In an interview with the Yorkshire Post, Cefai shared:

It’s been hard work and there have been times when I felt like giving up but then I feel like it’s something I have to do. I love her work and it saddens me to think that an artist with such wonderful talent could so easily slip through the net of recognition That’s what drives me. Sheila Bownas is not just a number in a file now, she’s a name in the limelight.

Have a look at the Sheila Bownas website for many more of her wonderful designs.

Portrait of Sheila Bownascredit

Additional image credits:

The Guardian | The Northern Echo

Blob Birds Christmas giveaway

Helen Russell Blob Birds kitchen textiles with mince pies & holly | H is for Home

This month, we’re excited to have a kitchen textiles set in Helen Russell‘s cheeky ‘Blob Birds’ pattern to give away.

Helen Russell Blob Birds kitchen textiles | H is for Home

The set consists of an apron, oven glove and tea towel.

Detail of Helen Russell Blob Birds pattern | H is for Home

The sweet little bird pattern is just perfect for our Christmastime competition. They look like rotund little robins who have eaten one too many mince pies!

Helen Russell Blob Birds kitchen textiles with mince pies & holly | H is for Home

To be in with a shot at winning the set, tell us in the comments section below what your favourite food is to eat over Christmas.

Helen Russell Blob Birds kitchen textiles set




Shared on: Superluckyme | The Prizefinder | Loquax | Competition Database | U Me and the Kids

Tibor Reich for Concorde

Vintage Tibor Reich fabric cushions | H is for Home

We’ve long been fans of the designs of Tibor Reich and were lucky enough to catch a retrospective of his work at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester last year.

Pair of cushions made from vintage Tibor Reich fabrics | H is for Home

A few weeks ago, we bought some cushion covers from a well-known online auction site. It was the original fabric used to make them that caught our eye. The seller photographed the covers alongside a cut-out from a magazine article that showed that the fabric was designed by Tibor Reich and had been used on Concorde.

We couldn’t find any images of the actual interior of Concorde showing this pattern. However we did find this reference:

One of the commercial highlights for Tibor Ltd. in the 1960s was a commission to design the first sets of upholstery and curtain fabrics for the Anglo-French Concorde (prior to trial flights in 1968) [Cabinet Maker and Retail Furnisher, October, 1966]. Five Jacquard upholstery cloths, in natural and gold were used as curtaining fabric along with two carpet designs [Cabinet Maker and Furnisher, October, 1965].
via “Patterns of Culture: Tibor Reich: A Life of Colour and Weave“, by K. Powers and M. A. Hann (with a contribution by J. A. Cousens).

Vintage Tibor Reich fabric with cut out from a 1960s issue of Cabinet Maker and Retail Furnisher, October

It’s clearly the same fabric as shown in the article, we just haven’t been able to find that ‘in situ’ image as yet. We’d love to see one. As well as being used on the plane, these fabrics were probably also used in the airport lounge for Concorde passengers. Someone’s probably got a lovely colour holiday snap with them pictured sipping champagne, reclining on seats covered in it!

Cushion made with vintage Tibor Reich fabric on a leather club chair | H is for Home

We were delighted with the fabric when it arrived. Beautiful colours and striking design – and unused, mint condition too. The cushions were very nicely made, so as cushions they will stay. With Justin’s chair addiction, we’ve got endless chairs to put them on!

Cushion made with vintage Tibor Reich fabric on a leather club chair | H is for Home

We thought they were a very good price too, considering the high profile designer and prestigious client… and a bargain never hurts!

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Price Points: Homeware textiles with tassels

Homeware textiles with tassels | H is for Home

If you don’t have a massive budget and want to add some decorative touches to a room, a few tassels or pom-poms are a quick and easy solution.

There’s a huge variety of homewares that can be given the tassel treatment – curtains to cushions, bedspreads to beanbags.

Tassels can be pared back & natural or colourful & fun. They work with lots of different styles; from luxe to ethnic, modern to classical.

  1. Metallic key tassel – silver/gold: £2.49, Terry’s Fabrics
  2. Pocah multicoloured cotton cushion 45 x 45cm: £45.89 Maisons du Monde
  3. Selina table runner: £118.00, Anthropologie

Designer Desire: Vuokko Nurmesniemi

Mosaic of Vuokko Nurmesniemi designs | H is for Home

This is a Designer Desire post for all you vintage fashion fans! Vuokko Nurmesniemi (born 1930) was one of the two main pattern designers at Marimekko during the 1950s. Her striped Jokapoika (top image) was one of the company’s best sellers.

I just love her big, bold op art designs, many of which are in the New York Met’s permanent collection. Those tent coats and dresses are to die for!

I couldn’t find much of it available online. However, a few sellers on Etsy stock vintage Nurmesniemi-designed Marimekko and her own brand Vuokko Oy pieces.

Portrait of Vuokko Nurmesniemicredit

Additional image credits:

Marimekko | Pinterest

Designer Desire: Barbara Brown

Collage of Barbara Brown textile designs | H is for Home

I went to a Barbara Brown exhibition at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester last week. I was already quite familiar with her work, but seeing them up close and in the flesh I was completely blown away!

Seeing images of her designs in books or online can never do them justice. The sheer scale of the many op art patterns – 1¼ metres wide – make the mind boggle!

Originally from Manchester, Barbara Brown attended Canterbury College of Art and then on to the Royal College of Art. It was at her degree show in 1953 that she was discovered by Tom Worthington, Artistic Director of Heal’s. The rest, as they say, is history. She produced many designs for the company (where she was a contemporary of Lucienne Day) in her two-decade career with them. Her designs won the Council of Industrial Design (COID) award on three occasions.

You can usually find lengths of her fabrics (and ready made soft furnishings if your sewing skills are anything like mine) on eBay and Etsy.

Barbara Brown textile designer © Graham Copekogacredit

Additional image credits:

Pinterest | V&A