Home decor is doodle now

Welsh designer Bethan Gray did something she hadn’t done for some time during the 2020 hiatus: she started painting. Choosing her Chinese calligraphy brushes, she began creating free-form lines in ink above sea level on a canvas laid out on the floor of her studio. It was a spontaneous feat, but what emerged was a progression of an earlier design she had envisioned for the inlay on her dhow collection: a pattern inspired by the sweeping sails of traditional Omani boats.

Bethan Gray with her Inky Dhow collection: large triptych artwork, £11,900. Three-door wardrobe, £16,200. CC-Tapis rug, POA. Glossy coffee table, £8220. Seven Sisters ships, from £231. Ripple armchair, £9,000, © Julian Abrams

Its new design concept, Inky Dhow, has been the catalyst for countless new projects. London-based leather expert Bill Amberg saw the potential in Gray’s original artwork for his third set of digitally printed leatherettes. Gray redraws her paintings in a one-to-one scale to bring them to life on the skin. “It was 1.5 meters by 3 meters – the largest I’ve ever made – because I didn’t want to lose the quality of the brush strokes or the way the dark ink fades to light on the skin.”

This June, as part of Milan Design Week, Inky Dhow will also appear in an immersive installation at Rossanna Orlandi Gallery, showing not only the leather upholstery of her new Gray Ripple sofa and chair but also as an inlay on her Shamsian furniture (side panel It consists of more than 500 separate pieces of veneer). There are flashes of flowing lines on the top of a brass Luster table, in her silk and wool rugs by Milanese specialist CC-Tapis and on Murano glass lighting handcrafted in collaboration with Baroncelli.

Stained-glass window based on artwork by Annie Morris in the Painter's Room bar at Claridge's, London

Stained-glass window based on artwork by Annie Morris in the Painter’s Room bar at Claridge’s, London

Vase from the Enki Dao Bethan Gray collection

Vase from the Enki Dao Bethan Gray collection

Buy it: Balu Checkmate Mattress, £20, Libertylondon.com

Buy it: Balu Checkmate Mattress, £20, Libertylondon.com

The design caught the attention of Emily Johnson, co-founder of 1882 Ltd, who asked Gray to transfer her engraving to seven original Seven Sisters pottery kiln-shaped ceramic vases in Stoke-on-Trent where the company was based. “I didn’t throw out the pots but I went to Stoke to paint them. I really enjoyed being very practical,” Gray says.

The brushwork here brings to mind the expressive art of some of Gray’s heroes. “I’ve always been inspired by line illustration. I love Picasso, Jean Cocteau, and Matisse.” We have a few pieces around the house: a couple of Picasso and Cocteau paintings and Matisse lithographs, as well as a felt-embroidered Cocteau tapestry. It’s inspiring that these artists weren’t limited to canvas, they worked across different media and it’s good for me to do the same.”

Petra Burner in Partnership Editions Home Candelabra and 2 hand-painted chandelier, £450, partnereditions.com

Petra Borner at Partnership Editions Home Hand-painted sconce and chandelier 2, £450, partnereditions.com © Christopher Horwood

Frances Costeloy at Partnership Editions Home Hand-painted ceramic plates and bowls, £120, partnereditions.com

Frances Costeloy at Partnership Editions Home Hand-painted earthenware plates and bowls, £120, partnereditions.com © Christopher Horwood

Beyond the canvas, collages and illustrations are increasingly appearing on furniture, tapestries, ceramics, and wall treatments. Citing new designs in Liberty’s fabric collection such as Delaney Dragon Tana Lawn cotton, panel decor by Willemien Bardawil and playful organic patterns in hand-colored ceramics from Popolo and Anna Vail’s Balu, says Briony Ray Sheridan, Liberty’s director of purchasing.

Last fall, the online gallery Partition Editions launched the Home as Art category: a curated collection of works that “everything has a story to tell.” Thus, the free drawings of Francis Costeloy’s faces and plants have been transferred to ceramics, the ethereal paintings by Juliana Byrne find their way into wall hangings, and illustrations of Petra Burner features on ornate candelabra.

Sharpie pen drawings by Annie Morris at her home in France

Sharpie pen drawings by Annie Morris at her home in France © Matthieu Salvaing

Buy it: Wilmin Bardawil Angels Delight Dish, £52, Libertylondon.com

Buy it: Wilmin Bardawil Angels Delight Dish, £52, Libertylondon.com

Buy it: Fish Pitcher People, £55, Libertylondon.com

Buy it: Fish Pitcher People, £55, Libertylondon.com

It’s a concept that echoes in the Bloomsbury Group’s ambition to immerse everything in art, implemented most famously at Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant’s Sussex home Charleston. You can trace its influence, for example, in the work of British artist Annie Morris who, while renovating the French home she owned with her husband Idris Kahn, painted her signature characters and flowers directly on the walls with Sharpie. In 2021, Morris was commissioned to paint a mural for The Painter’s Room, a new bar at the Claridge’s Hotel, where a stained-glass window also repeats one of her watercolors.

Cliff Bell Studying at Charleston in Sussex

Cliff Bell Study in Charleston, Sussex © James Pelorini

Claire de Quentin hand-painted mural in her home

Claire de Quentin hand-painted mural in her home

There are a number of artists who could be invited to bring art into the home: Jan Erika of London creates hand-painted murals in bold and multicolored colors in both homes and public spaces, as does Claire de Quentin, who lives in Brussels but also works in the UK. “The work has become a lot easier for me than it was three or four years ago when I started,” says the artist, who grew up in the Normandy countryside, and whose designs were inspired by flowers, plants, trees and gardens. “People are more open to bringing these patterns into their homes now.”

Mural commissioned by Tess Newall in the style of painter Ludwig Bemelmans

Mural commissioned by Tess Newall in the style of painter Ludwig Bemelmans

De Quénetain took off shortly after graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2014 and posted a photo on Instagram of a mural she had painted in her home. “When something is popular on Instagram, things happen fast,” she laughs. “But I just enjoyed the idea of ​​bringing my own fingerprints into my home. I have my own ornamental language of shapes and being close to nature – the real motive of my work.” In December 2021, it launched a collection of 15 wallpaper designs, in addition to its existing fabrics.

East Sussex-based Tess Newall is another in-demand artist, having recently commissioned Soho House Design Group to paint a client’s child’s bedroom in the style of Ludwig Bemelmanns, the mural designer in the New York Carlisle Hotel bar. Two years ago, she created a limited range of hand-painted chairs inspired by the Bloomsbury and Charleston collection of young British furniture company Ceraudo. In February, the brand launched its new Orpha range, which co-founder Victoria Cerudo described as the “second phase” of the Bloomsbury Connection. This capsule furniture collection – armchairs, slipper chair, dining chairs and footstool – is decked out in bold ink and brush print, a distinct departure from the brand’s traditional and geometric offerings. “We wanted to do something more contemporary and abstract that blurs the line between art and design,” Ceraudo explains. “You have what is basically a piece of art translated into different formats – it’s something three-dimensional in your interior space rather than hanging on the wall.”

Ceraudo Orpha Elio armchair, £1775

Ceraudo Orpha Elio armchair, £1775

Hand painting in Ceraudo

Hand painting in Ceraudo

The print is inspired by the cutting work of Henri Matisse and the Orphism movement, led by Robert and Sonia Delaunay in the early 20th century. “We went down a rabbit hole with Sonia Delaunay,” Cerudeau says. “She was a great character with such a fluid movement between art and design. Robert was a pure person, and to be completely devoted to painting, Sonia tried a lot of different things: costume design, interior decoration – she even designed a car print. She was ready to be commercial. And he made income from various media so Robert wouldn’t have to. He got most of the recognition at the time but she was the force behind it all.”

Few of us have the creative abilities of Delaware, and those who want to plunge into the trend without using an artist to paint their home might consider luxury hand-painted wallpaper. Just Ask Goop actress and entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow, whose Montecito home dining room recently showed up in Architectural Digestis a vision of whimsical bluish-gray skies and hand-drawn trees – a fantasy captured without a paintbrush or easel in sight.

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