When fashion designer Mary Katrantzou first visited the headquarters of historic tile brand Villeroy & Boch in Merzig, Germany, it was a design from the past that caught her eye: the amazing Victorian tiles that still decorate the 270-year-old brand’s hallways. Tasked with creating the company’s first designer collaboration for more than 20 years, she looked to its enduring pieces from this era before adding her own unique twist
The new collection, ‘Victorian’, is instantly recognisable as the work of Katrantzou, often referred to as the ‘Queen of print’.
Those who love her clothes will spot the use of her signature butterfly motif. ‘They played a key part in my 10-year anniversary collection in 2018, which was all about the art of collecting,’ she tells us. Fascinated by the creature’s ability to adapt, evolve and grow, Katrantzou sees them as an illustrative metaphor. ‘As human beings, we all go through some type of metamorphosis in life and butterflies are symbolic of this message of optimism.’
The four colourful butterfly designs in the range, each created using a combination of digital and traditional screen-printing techniques for a handcrafted appearance, are joined by four modern, graphic interpretations of monochrome Victorian tiles.
For Katrantzou, who studied architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design before taking up textile design at London’s Central Saint Martins, it felt a natural progression to transfer her aesthetic to interiors.
‘My mother is an interior designer and my father a textile engineer,’ she points out. ‘It is very exciting to be part of someone’s home, where they surround themselves with things they love. It creates a feeling of permanence that’s very different to the nature of fashion.’
Perhaps the most exciting thing for Katrantzou is the idea that every person who buys her tiles can use them in a totally unique and personal way. They are, she explains, ‘building blocks’ to create something special. ‘I would love to see them in someone’s kitchen, the garden, the main entrance or around the fireplace.’
For her, however, they will first be used to decorate her own bathroom. ‘It gives me so much joy to incorporate our collaboration in the space that is my most personal,’ she adds. Tiles from £21, villeroy-boch.co.uk