left: Luxury accessories like throw pillows round out the lifestyle anniversary collection, photographed at the Boston Athenaeum. middle: Lee Jofa’s 200th Anniversary collection includes Hollyhock as a wallcovering for the first time. right: A robust selection of corresponding wallcovering accompanies the textiles, including a fresh spin on Hollyhock.
Lee Jofa has such a rich history in the home décor world. How is the brand celebrating this milestone 200th anniversary?
In addition to our robust lifestyle collection launch, we are celebrating the anniversary in several dynamic ways, from panel discussions and events around the country, to showhouses highlighting designs from the new collection, to a feature at an antiques fair in Omaha. We’re partnering with MarieBelle, an artisanal chocolatier, as well as Sarah Bray-West, a Bermuda-based designer using our fabrics to accent her beautiful hats.
Tell us a bit about the signature collection of textiles, furniture, and carpet and accessories.
We knew we wanted to relaunch beloved hand-block printed patterns, Hollyhock and Tree of Life, and began development early because they are so labor intensive to produce.
Chintz has been coming back, and we wanted to offer some new colorations of classic patterns, like Floral Bouquet (a favorite of Mario Buatta) and Trentham Hall. We looked at past favorites, and designs that represented different eras of the brand’s long history. Mille Fleur, for example, is one of the oldest-running patterns in the collection, and was developed at an English studio in the early 19th century in the Arts and Crafts style.
Collaborating with our carpet and furniture departments allowed us to build, not just a fabric and wallcovering collection, but a larger lifestyle story that captures the timeless, English-inspired lifestyle of Lee Jofa.
Are wall-coverings on the horizon?
Yes, wallpapers for many of the print patterns will be coming soon. A highlight is the introduction of Tree of Life as a wallpaper for the first time. This wallpaper is being offered as a continuous design as the fabric but also as a panel design harking back to the original design created in the 1920s.
How has the brand reflected its deep roots in this anniversary collection? I am sure going through the archives must have been fascinating!
Through the process, we learned that the strength of the brand is our ability to adapt to trends and changes in the market, while staying tethered to the English roots and the archival patterns we’re known for.
Also, color plays a huge role in making a pattern feel relevant to today’s market. Color can pigeonhole a pattern to a particular era, but it can also be used to make a pattern feel new and fresh again. In many cases, we employed a softer palette, incorporating newer tones like lilac and apricot to create unexpected combinations.
Translating patterns like Hollyhock and Tree of Life to wallcovering was another way to showcase these classic patterns in a new light. Wallcovering continues to be a growing category for us, and is a great way to engage a new generation of designers.
We stay connected to our traditional English roots, but are willing to adapt with the times, especially in terms of color. Archival textiles will always be at the core of our design process, but we look to fine art, fashion and global shifts in trend and culture to keep our collections fresh and tuned into the market.
Tell us a bit more in detail about the carpet collection. It’s quite extensive.
The entire Lee Jofa 200 rug collection originated with a special signature color palette and was developed in tandem with the signature fabrics. The handmade assortment of rug options allows the designer to dress up or dress down their interiors as well as giving solutions for any area at a variety of price levels.
High design meets high performance. One area of focus was taking performance to a new level of luxury and sophistication. By using tight time-honored techniques and ultra fine hand spun, worry free yarns that resemble lustrous Chinese silk that wonderfully support the lifestyle.
What are some of your favorite stand out pieces?
Asking to pick my favorites is a bit like asking a parent to prick their favorite child, but I am partial to the two iconic handblock prints in the collection.
Hollyhock is generally considered by many interior designers to be the most beautiful floral print on the market. The design has a simplicity to it and doesn’t read as too flowery or too feminine, which lends it a modern sensibility and broadens its appeal. I happen to have a colorway of it printed on cotton chintz in my own home. The second handblock print, Tree of Life, is a true work of art which requires 267 hand-carved wooden blocks to print one repeat of the design. Since its inception a hundred years ago, until now, it had only been realized in one color way. For the first time in generations, we’ve painstakingly created two new colorations which we feel reflect the manner in which many rooms are currently decorated. Furthermore, for the first time in history, we’ve had matching wallpaper printed in the two new colorways.
Photography courtesy of Lee Jofa