Category Archives: textiles

Double, Double Toile and Trouble

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In French, the word toile (phonetically “twall”) refers to a simple woven fabric, in fact the word in French means “linen cloth” or “canvas”.  However, in interior design and haute couture, the term toile is mostly used in reference to  “toile de Jouy” – a cloth from Jouy-en-Josas France which originated in the 18th century.  This type of decorating pattern usually consist of a white background, on which a repeated pattern depicting complex scenes, can be found. The scenes are of pastoral farm life, picnics, high society, and any number of classic architecture motifs. The pattern consists of a single color, most often black, dark red, or blue. The fabric was extremely popular in France and Great Britain during the 18th century, and late in America during the Colonial Era.

It’s time for the resurgence of this trend!

James Merrell / The Walkup

Colefax and Fowler does a modern take on toile wallpaper. Bright printed pillows, and a graphic (zigzagged!) patterned throw bring this bedroom into the 21st century. A turquoise, gilded headboard doesn’t hurt either. Photograph by James Merrell via Design Gumbo.

The Walkup

London Toile Brights by Timorous Beasties offers a neon take on English cityscapes. 

Modern Toile Wallpaper

Somehow this match-matchy room, wherein the stuffed animals match the pillows which match the wall, comes off looking extremely cute, french and modern. Image via Le Petit Chou Chou

Balleroy by Manuel Canovas

Pink Toile on Toile via Manuel Canovas, Paris.

Surrender the Pink / The Walkup

A toile, Japanese print screen acts as a headboard. The bed’s dust ruffle and chair bring the nautical, fresh and revitalized Colonial bedroom to the present. Image via Surrender the Pink.

The Walkup

A grown-up office space. I imagine myself closing envelopes with wax seals in this sohpisticated nook. The geode bookends match the Toile pattern perfectly. 

The Walkup / House to Home

Like an aristocrat from days gone by, feel free to cover every surface with bucolic, toile scenes. Add some edge to the space by playing on the contrast of farm-scenes with more modern, colour-blocked upholstery. Midcentury Modern and geometric design elements finish off the eclectic space. Image via House to Home.

The Walkup

In the guest room of his Manhattan townhouse, Architectural Digest decorator Geoffrey Bradfield experimented with a black-and-white toile depicting the city skyline to create a modern take on a traditional design concept. The upholstered headboard was inspired by one in a Dubai hotel. Image via Architectural Digest, September 2005. Photography by Durston Saylor. 

The Walkup

Toile drapes, pops of red, long mirrors and classic bathroom floor tiling allow this bathroom to be a space which I would not mine relaxing in for hours. I particularly love the industrial pipes-meets-marble His and Hers sink station. 

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Michael Andrews Bespoke

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Michael Andrews Bespoke is a custom tailor. The space is incredibly intimate, trendy, and modern. The storefront, hidden in an alleyway on Great Jones Street in Soho, NY, is an appointment-only boutique offering bespoke suits, shirts, tuxedoes, sport coats, pants, overcoats, pocket squares, cufflinks, neckwear and other formalwear. A self proclaimed “recovering corporate attorney,” Michael Andrews donned a suit and tie to a law firm every day for nearly eight years. When he could not find off-the-rack suits cut to his liking, he began having his clothes custom made. After trying over a dozen tailors without finding exactly what he wanted, he decided to open his own tailor shop. All of the fabrics in shop are courtesy of Savile Row ( A shopping street in central London, renown for its high quality men’s tailoring. The term “bespoke” is thought to have originated in Savile Row when cloth for a suit was said to “be spoken for” by individual customers).

In 2006, Michael Andrews Bespoke was launched with the vision of crafting high-end yet approachable menswear with a modern flare.  Since its inception, the storefront has been named “Best of New York” by Time Out New York, New York Magazine, Bloomberg Markets, AM New York and JW Marriott Magazine. My boyfriend has had the distinct pleasure of being fitted for one of Michael’s perfect suits (this takes several visits), and during his visit was hosted at the bar (complete with vintage typewriter) and given hundreds of textile options. My boyfriend and the owner have also stayed late discussing stocks, sports, and every other subject under the sun – the kind of attention that makes shops like this rare in this day and age. This exceptional, design oriented, unique and yet causal space is absolutely outstanding.

The hidden, back-of-the-alley space during christmastime. Courtesy of Robb Report, HERE.

A side street in Soho, achievable only by a hidden gate and doorbell. The sort of forgotten alley that makes a NYC resident feel as if they have finally discovered the secrets of an ancient city. Workers in the space have won Esquire Magazine’s “Best Dressed Real Man in America” (Dan Trepanier, Senior Advisor) and one is a fifth generation master tailors hailing from Monaghan, Ireland (Rory Duffy, Master Tailor). To find out more about the spot’s motley crew, click HERE. Visiting the space feels like taking a time machine to the turn of the century (and sometimes prior) to a space that appreciate patience, craft, and fit. To a time before electricity, when calling cards, gloves, and canes were a la mode.

 Image found HERE. 

The inner sanctum of the holy custom tailor’s floor. The black and white podium tables are offset by the velvet, velour, and corduroy knit suits adorning the ceiling shelves.

Could you ever say no to a man dressed in this suit? Bond, James Bond. The tuxedo first appeared in 1889 while dinner jacket is dated only to 1891. These two options are predated by the tailcoat and smoking jacket. Thanks to the evolution of tailoring, the menswear is now appropriate for both formal and informal locales.

Aside from the french cuffs, the lapels, the hemming, the lining, and all other custom aspects of a piece of clothing – the store itself is a beautiful exploration of masculinity, modernism, and restraint. The details all complement one another perfectly so that the end product feels contemporary yet vintage. New; yet old. This juxtaposition of companies based in old world techniques, married with the styles of new, helps Michael Andrews Bespoke to succeed.  In the end, would you trust a tailor to make you an aesthetically pleasing suit if he did not work in an aesthetically pleasing shop?

“It’s Ok To Be A Square”

The choices, the choices. Which fabric swatch calls to you?

The MAB Studio

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Downright Knotty

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My mother, queen of all things craft, used to knot and braid macramé often in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. I recently asked her to reteach me the craft, and although she remembered perfectly how to hem and crochet, she completely forgot the knotting techniques. She had not touched the hempen rope since the Carter Administration. It seems macramé is much harder than remembering to ride a bicycle.

Gracie, a graphic design student aspiring to be a print and pattern designer, makes some of the most beautiful knotted bracelets I have ever seen. Many more HERE.

This art is simply a form of knot tying. However, there are specific tying patterns and weaving lingo used: hitching, double hitching, half hitch, granny knots.  The knots were long crafted by sailors, especially in elaborate or ornamental knotting forms, to decorate anything from knife handles and plant vases, to bottles to parts of ships. The word “macrame” is Arabic for “fringe,” named after the thirteenth century rug weavers who finished the edges of the loomed material (think rugs) with decorative knots. Based on Arabic conquests, and trade routes, the craft spread globally. Sailors, along routes and while bored, made macramé objects in off hours at sea, and sold or bartered them when they  were at port. Favorite creations were usually hammocks and bell fringes. These were sold in China however, did not catch on as the people already had Chinese Square Knotting.

The Eichler ranch house feels a little bit folksy, a little bit Godfather (thank you horsehead pillow). Hoo Hoo doesn’t love those macrame owls?  Image found via Retro Renovation, HERE.

Sarah Parkes is a designer who works with macrame under her label Smalltown. Above is a residential commission, The Griffin Residence, with a custom chandelier by Parkes. For the product line, go here.

Knotted objects eventually reached the English courts by the 17th century, but did not become de rigueur in the mainstream until the late 1700’s and 1800’s. Sylvia’s Book of Macramé Lace (1882), a  bestseller for the era, showed readers how “to work rich trimmings for black and coloured costumes, both for home wear, garden parties, seaside ramblings, and balls—fairylike adornments for household and underlinens …” Most Victorian homes were outfitted by these intricately tied knots.  Apparently, hippies, children, and other “free love afficianados” saw something utilitarian and inspiring in the knotting. The craft had a huge resurgence in the 1970’s as a means to make wall hangings, articles of clothing, bedspreads, capes, ponchos, shorts, tablecloths, draperies, plant hangers, and other furnishings. Now, every child sent to summer camp knows how to macrame thanks to friendship bracelets (often worn stacked up an entire arm). Sometimes going to overnight camp feels like living in the 18th century meets the 1970’s, so this revitalization makes sense.

Image found HERE.

Be sure that you are ok with feather dusting and steaming! Once a summer camp standby, macramé might be the next big thing found HERE.  Hanging in the lobby of the new Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, L.A. artist and designer Michael Schmidt wanted to shake things up. “I suggested we take the seventies macramé idea further by incorporating nautical and Japanese rope-knotting techniques,” he says. The curtain hangs from assorted pieces of antique hardware, ship’s pulleys and butcher’s hooks. 

Macrame – Knotted Milati Hanging Chair via Antrhopologie, HERE.

Fun and slightly kitschy 1970’s macramé window hangers are just lovely. With circular and triangular patterns, this is sure to allow unique light patterns to brighten up your day.  Made with wood and cotton, the large macramé can go in a window, a door or a wall to give personality. Image found HERE.

A wall hanging on view at Relish in Portland by artist Sally England of Mondo Macrame Product. I just love the fact that back in the day the knotting craze was not just for women, but that men, young boys and girls, teenagers, and the elderly were doing it too,” says England. “People were using their hands to make everything from rad macramé vests and belts, to whole macramé rooms and hanging pods.” 

More organic, eco, and soft Sally England modern macrame, HERE.  So how to use these hangings in a home? “Knotted rope can add some really interesting texture to a space, especially on a large scale,” says England. “Because I generally work with looser knot structures, my room dividers would be great in an open loft-like environment where flow and delineation of space is needed but complete separation is not.” 

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