Step inside the Liberty Fabrics design studio as we talk through the archival inspirations, hand-painted designs and digital mastery behind A Palace Garden - our new collection for Autumn/Winter 2018, exploring the gilded glamour of Eltham Palace in South East London.
"Eltham Palace itself is quite similar to Liberty, with its Tudor oak beams and its deceptive, lavish interior. The Courtaulds were known for being great hosts - they had lots of parties in the Great Hall, which was designed to look like the inside of a luxury cruise liner. You can imagine that the people who went to their parties in the '30s might have shopped at Liberty too…"
"Morris Butterfly is a new Art Nouveau-inspired design with a mirrored, flowing layout. There's a lot of very fine detail, so it's a skill to be able to have it screen printed instead of digitally printed. With screen printing you get a mark which people love - it's got a feeling of authenticity."
"Buchanen and Twilight are two of a series of pen-and-ink designs from the collection that were that were drawn from details from the palace's architecture, then worked up into clever geometrics."
"During the '30s, it was popular to structure a garden like a set of rooms - so each section of Eltham Palace's gardens has a different feel and a different planting theme."
"We looked at all our florals in the archive, and built them into unique stories for each area - there are these quintessential English florals like Wysteria and Daisy Daisy."
"We use a textile-specific program which helps us to separate colours, put layouts together, create the repeats and rework them completely - you can see here how much designs can change."
"The Courtaulds had a pet lemur - he had the run of the house. There was a little area called the 'rainforest room' for him to live in. We loved that story, and wanted to take inspiration from it by bringing our own eccentric animals into the collection."
"I had a lot of fun drawing the monkeys for Tree Tops - they became my friends! When you're doing a conversational design, you can really put some personality into it. I went to look at the monkeys in Stockholm's zoo - we try to go on lots of trips to exhibitions and gardens, to get original photographs to draw from."
"We spend a lot of time colouring after the designs are complete. We build boards with themed imagery, then pull out different colour swatches and work all the designs up into the different looks, narrowing down to the ones they work best in."
"Dancing Butterfly was painted in gouache with a fine brush, with butterfly wings layered on top of each other to create a textured design."
"We spend hours working on repeats: making sure that they balance and flow. You don't want too much space going between the flowers, or for all the leaves to be facing in the same direction."
"With digital printing, we can use more colours than ever before. But we know our customers still love the look of a classic Liberty print, so we still paint and draw and design to reflect that kind of look."
"Roaring Wheels is a modern redrawing of a very old Liberty print, with little passengers. When you first see one of our conversational prints, you might not spot all the details - but over time you'll notice more. That's what makes something a Liberty print - you always have to look twice."