03 Sep Scottish Textile Mavericks Paving the Way for New Take on Tradition
They’ve been referred to as being like ‘William Morris on acid’, Timerous Beasties, the now infamous textile and wallpaper design powerhouse which is the brainchild of Glasgow design duo Alistair Mcauley and Paul Simmons is well and truly making it’s mark on the textile industry. With their focus upon the aesthetic reimagining of the time honoured motifs of textile history, they work to perfectly combine the traditional with the new and edgy, a tough balance to not only achieve, but one that is hard to achieve well, something that Timerous Beasties have managed with ease.
The design studio was established in 1990, after the pair, who met in the late 80’s while both studying at the Glasgow School of Art, decided that their styles complimented each other incredibly well. From that point on the company has made a name for itself through the use of unavoidably modern motifs interspersed in the patterns of traditional textile making. The company famously turned the heads of the textile industry when in 2004 they released their redesign of textile classic, Toile. The pattern which is traditionally firmly rooted in it’s pastoral imagery was given a Timerous makeover where the tranquil countryside scenes of old were replaced by images of modern Glasgow, while still using the traditional tonal colour palette and style of Toile but with a modern twist, this design in fact won them one of their first accolades. They have since gone on to create other Toiles based on cities from London to New York.
Similarly, the company has redesigned traditional Damask motifs. The ordinarily crisp, ornate patterns replaced with a freer, more impressionistic take on the tradition, the pattern, although a recognisable Damask shape, is made up of blotches of colour which makes for a much softer finish. The studio is also renowned for it’s more naturalistic illustrative styles, which depict the natural world and creatures in an incredibly detailed illustrated style, it is particularly through these styles that we see a strong focus upon Mcauley and Simmons Scottish heritage, with these prints often centring around plants and creatures native to the country.
Unsurprisingly, the studio has built an extensive portfolio which includes collaborations with clients such as The National Trust owned Burns Museum, in which the studio designed a 21ft by 8ft carpeted artwork which is centred around imagery from Scotland’s celebrated poet Robert Burns. This imagery was also used on polished granite slabs for the museums exterior walkway. Other projects have included a complete interior redesign for the boardroom of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London’s South Kensington, in which they created wallpaper, drapes and a feature rug using the motifs of thistles and roses which are motifs also used on the exterior of the building itself. The wallpaper was specially designed to have the pattern situated slightly higher so as not to take focus away from the existing art works that adorn the room and care was even taken to ensure that the pattern cleverly frames the iconic painting of Queen Victoria that hangs above the rooms fireplace.
Although having completed high profile commissions for brands such as The Famous Grouse, London department store Fortnum and Mason and renowned milliner Phillip Tracey, the company still cater for more domestic spaces having created a cushion range in John Lewis and sell a wide range of interiors products directly from their own website which even features an interactive section where you can design your own Timerous Beasties room using prints and products from their own catalogue.
All Images – www.timerousbeasties.com