Liberty Meets

Matthew Williamson

As the designer branches out into furniture, we sat down - on a Duresta X Matthew Williamson sofa - to talk textiles

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As one of Britain’s most prolific designers, Matthew Williamson has carved out a unique, colourful, butterfly-shaped path in the fashion landscape. Partnerships and design collaborations have seen his prints adorning wallpaper, stationery, rugs and more, but his first foray into furniture proper comes courtesy of Duresta. Read the story here. . .

How did collection come about?Duresta approached us to collaborate and we’ve done interiors before, wallpapers etc., so this felt like a very natural, no-brainer project. I’ve always loved interiors and it just made a lot of sense to add it to our brand.

How was this collection different from what you’ve done before?It’s the first time I’ve been able to put my stamp on furniture, I’ve got a certain style that I’m drawn to. This time round we were creating 3 dimensional products, whereas wallpaper is almost a flat textile; this was a whole other ball game. I learned so much about how you make sofas - it was one of those situations where I certainly didn’t appreciate the level of craftsmanship and time and microscopic attention to detail that you just do take for granted. I went to the factory a couple of times and was really in awe of how they build these pieces, they’re really quite special and I love that, whether it’s dresses, clothes, whatever it is I love learning and seeing those skills being done.

What do you want people to get from the finished collection?It’s the same as with my my clothes, I hope [the furniture] brings a certain optimism into people’s lives, it’s intended to be slightly irreverent and tongue-in-cheek and make you happy, that’s my real intention. Whether it’s bought as a suite and you do your whole house I don’t know, because I personally see them as one-offs you might have as a hero piece in the middle of a room. I see them as cherry-picking pieces that would hopefully be conversation-starters.

What’s your own living space like?It changes all the time, it’s kind of a moving feast. I’m not one to stick with the same thing as I get bored really quickly so I’m always redoing the space. I’m lucky to have a big lounge with high ceilings and big windows so it’s a great space to work with. I’m not painting the walls every month but today it’s so much easier to add and adapt and move things around if you’ve got a good space. My home is neutral to a degree, then there are pockets of colour and texture and that’s where I like to build little areas of interest, you can do it with a pile of books or a plant, it doesn’t need to be a whole new scheme.

How did you put your stamp on the collection?Each piece was designed with the pieces in my home in mind, they’re quite random odd pieces that I’ve collected over the years, they’ve certainly not been bought all at once and they don’t necessarily sit together in a traditional sense. That’s where I started, wanting that oddity and that mixed grouping which I appreciate takes a certain skill to put together. But that’s what I wanted to do, not focus on a certain genre or a certain era or a certain style, there’s a feeling across the range that it’s got quite a broad range of inspirations.

Do any of the prints have a story behind them?The sofa print we’re sitting on is a new design developed specifically for this range, Marble Butterfly. The butterfly is a motif I’ve used countless times, it’s become synonymous to my brand and I quite like that they’re trapped in the marble and not obvious from afar. Again there’s another print in the collection we call The Butterfly Wheel, which is a really old print we did many years ago, but it’s never run out of steam and I use it a lot. It’s on sportswear, stationery and all manner of things. I’m never bored of butterflies! I like finding new ways to work with them and I think it’s important when brand building, to move on seasonally but have something that’s recognisable and easily identifiable.

What advice would you give to someone trying to build their own brand?First of all I’d suggest finding someone to work for, before you start your own business. I worked for Zandra Rhodes when I started and learned a lot there, I felt there was a synthesis between our work, so I’d say go for someone you really admire, learn as much as you can on the job and then believe in yourself. Without being arrogant, you need that unique vision and that belief that’s from your heart, you have to really love it. If you embody that I think other people will feed off it. I’ll write a book on the rest!

Duresta X Matthew Williamson is available in-store at Liberty from August 2016.

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