Fashion and interiors have long been easy bedfellows, but few pairings embody the romance and synergy of a new collaboration between bespoke hand-painted wallpaper and fabric specialists de Gournay and London-based designer Erdem Moralioglu. De Gournay rarely team up with external creatives, but the second generation– co-founder Claud Cecil Gurney’s two daughters are now involved in the business – are clearly keen to shake things up. Erdem is a personal favourite of Hannah Cecil Gurney, director of de Gournay. ‘I love everything he does,’ she enthuses, ‘his amazing fabrics, textures and love of colour. Everything feels very rich and maximalist but somehow suits a contemporary woman – it’s romantic but with an edge.’
Luckily, the attraction was mutual. ‘It turns out that Erdem loves what we do, too,’ smiles Cecil Gurney, who initiated the conversation, following it up with a visit to Moralioglu’s eastLondon studio to witness the designer at work. In turn, Moralioglu was invited to view the de Gournay archive, a rich source of inspiration that includes the brand’s own work stretching back to its 1986 origins, plus historical papers and samples collected over the decades by the Cecil Gurney family for reference. For those familiar with Erdem’s dreamy floral aesthetic, it should come as no surprise that Moralioglu identified the historical chinoiserie wallpapers as ripe for his reinvention. Keen to bring a contemporary sensibility to this decorative style, which peaked in popularity in Europe during the 18th century, he directed de Gournay accordingly.
The result is a fresh springtime symphony of twisting branches, trailing blooms – hydrangea, hollyhock, irises, chrysanthemums and morning glory – enlivened by colourful egrets, warblers, pheasants and sparrows darting through the foliage. ‘He was keen to use a wide variety of flora and fauna,’says Cecil Gurney, ‘particularly species we haven’t used before. Chinoiserie often features Chinese pagodas or human figures, but that can feel quite heavy. Erdem was keen for the design to be more free, whimsical and maximalist, so it would lend itself well to dresses, too.’ The fashion collection comprises 11 styles, with the pattern replicated on black or white backgrounds. ‘My work has always been about creating pieces with a human hand, which is why I so loved working with de Gournay,’ says Moralioglu.‘The intricacy of their work is extraordinary.’
Hand-painted on dyed silk ground, the wallcovering is currently produced in four colourways; a bluey grey that echoes the walls of Erdem’s Mount Street store in London, a dark rich golden yellow, a fresh lemon yellow and a deep emerald green, which contrasts vividly with the birds and blooms. ‘He was super-specific about the green, which he called “Kelly” green. It has a huge amount of depth as we painted and sponged four to five different tones of the shade onto the silk, it’s really jewel-toned. I’m obsessed with that colour,’ says Cecil Gurney.
The nature of de Gournay is that every order is bespoke and so clients can tailor the Erdem design to their own specifications, changing the background colour or adding favourite flowers, butterflies or birds to the scene. And with dresses to match, being a wallflower has never looked so alluring.
This article appeared in ELLE Decoration April 2020
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.
Keep your spirits up and subscribe to ELLE Decoration here, so our magazine is delivered direct to your door.