Monday, 25 July 2011

William Yeoward's Waves of Inspiration


If you are looking for a truly individual English designer, then you really do not need look any further than William Yeoward.  Interior designer Jamie Hempsall gives you an insight into this iconic style-maker.

We adore working with William, a fantastically generous and enthusiastic man who is passionate about everything he gets involved in.  We have been delighted to involve him on a number of projects, including a rather wonderful luncheon we hosted in a private country house for Macmillan Cancer Support with William as guest speaker.

Susan Crewe, editor of British House and Garden, describes him as “a man of passion, humour and an endearing power of persuasion”.  Anyone who has met him at a launch of one of his brilliant fabric collections will definitely echo that sentiment.

He embarked on a career in interior design and retail opening his first store in the King’s Road, Chelsea in 1985.  He undertook numerous interior design projects (his last being decorating for Lady Thatcher at the time she left government), but decided that he really wanted to concentrate on designing products and so ended his decorating career. 

Since then he has flourished developing fabrics, rugs, furniture, lighting and dinner services, along with antique furniture and truly jaw-droppingly beautiful crystal.  William says, “I realised very early on in my creative life that if I could not find what I wanted the best thing to do was to find someone to make it.”

William believes that a home should be lived in – no matter how fine your furniture – a sentiment that I echo whole-heartedly in all my designs.  William commented, “I think it is very important to work out what you are about and how you want to live before even contemplating a house or the things that you need to live in it comfortably”.

You are most likely to come across his work at many of the companies in Yorkshire who stock Designers Guild fabric and wallpaper for whom he designs exclusive ranges.  William explained, “Tricia Guild and I have been good friends for years and when she called me to discuss working together on a William Yeoward brand of Fabrics and Wallpaper my initial reaction was “Yes please” and so the William Yeoward collections were suddenly a reality”.

This year has seen the introduction of his Polperro range which I think is one of the most exciting new additions that I have seen for some time.  William Yeoward has dipped into his past to create three new collections within this range.

He was raised with the ocean on his doorstep.  Boating, sailing and fishing are in his blood and when he revisited the haunts of his youth he became aware of his need to use these inspirations in his work.  “There is something about the English coastline that is so unique.  There is a quality of light and a sense of freedom for me found here.  I love the colours of the landscape, the boats, the sailcloth’s, rolling pastures and the ocean spray”.

The first collection is Polperro which features a delicious selection of blue, marine, navy and sky blue stripes.  These are all woven in a traditional fashion (inspired by William’s collection of vintage pieces from 19th century European and British sources).  They have a very nautical feel to them with some terrific stripes and ticking such as Bodmin (£47 per m), as well as some distressed florals that will create an instant heritage piece if used for upholstery (look at Antony £42 per m).  There is also a wonderful ready sewn patchwork which is crying out to be made into a bedspread (£100 per m).

This second collection is St Mawes which includes combinations of red, saffron, olive and sage.  There are still plenty of beautiful stripes and a wonderful array of colours such as Boscastle a heavy cotton fabric which cleverly combines red, petrol blue and saffron to dramatic effect (£51 per m).  The range features a great deal more pattern than Polperro, such as the glorious Millbrook in Poppy (£42 per m).

The collection also includes St Just a fine, almost pinstripe design, made of heavy jute and cotton mix, which was originally a sackcloth from Lithuania.  This fine weave is smart, yet rustic and would look well used on sofas and chairs (£68 per m).  As with the other collection, there is a beautiful patchwork – also called Polperro, but in a brighter range of colours (£100 per m).

The final instalment is the St Ives wallpaper collection a stripe devotees dream come true.  These papers have a real feeling of what simplicity should be.  Devoran is beautifully textured and the detailed stripes of Whitstone and Trewen are delicate and considered.  In contrast, Boyton and St Ives are the classic stripe, revisited, re-coloured and reused.  The wallpapers mentioned are all £42 per roll.

So what is the secret behind William Yeoward’s design success? “It’s simple” he says, “I just design what I would like to have in my home and fortunately there are other people who seem to like it too!  Buying my work should bring long term pleasure not instant gratification and then years of disappointment”.

That is a sentiment I truly believe in and one which makes using William’s products such a pleasure.

Jamie Hempsall, BIID, is an award winning interior designer.  Visit him at or call on 0800 032 1180.

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