On a quiet street in the Chelsea neighborhood of London is the ravishing textile studio of Nathalie Farman-Farma. Nathalie was raised in France near Lyon, attended Brown University and left an editing job at The New Yorker to get married in London where she currently resides raising her two children and taking the fabric-design world by storm. A lover and collector of old East European textiles, in 2000 she picked up a beautiful 19th-century Russian fabric and her first thought was a rather practical one, to make pillows. “Objects become so much more interesting when they’re put to use,” she says. “The problem with old textiles is that after six months of people sitting on them, they fray; the fiber is too dry.” Her solution was to reimagine them with contemporary convenience. Which meant giving these prints a new lease to life by printing them on new, high-quality cotton and linen fabrics. ?Since 2010 her textile company, Décors Barbares, is doing just that. “It just means outsider,” she explains of the studio’s name. “I love the Ballets Russes, and it was considered barbaric—the music, the dance, the colors. I like that idea of being just outside the bounds of good taste, of being a little challenging.”
Inspired by the folklore of Eastern Europe and Northern Assia, she prints intriguing fabrics that are coveted by design-lovers around the world. Among her famous clientele are Lauren Santo Domingo, who commissioned her to find a special wall hanging for her dining room; Tory Burch, who uses her Eté Moscovite designs for her table linens; Violet von Westenholz (who played matchmaker to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle)?is also a huge fan of her fabrics. Vogue published an interesting feature on the designer and her?expert tips for using and mixing bold textiles and vibrant hues in a cohesive way. Bellow are a few excerpts that will?definitely come in handy next time we’re mixing and matching away. ?
“Part of the beauty of working with textiles is how versatile they are. Turn a scrap of vintage cloth into a pillow or an old dress from a flea market into a throw. The cushions in my bedroom were once a folk costume from Ukraine.” – Nathalie Farman – Farma for?Vogue
Eté Moscovite – Indigo?
Her Chelsea studio is brimming with exotic fabrics and has the allure of a textile museum.
?“I’m very interested in nineteenth-century peasant wear—they mixed ribbons and prints, because that’s all they could afford, and created beautiful outfits. They put so much of their soul and culture into these clothes. [Fashion] is one of the basic expressions of human creativity—like poetry or painting. Costumes are one of the expressions of culture. So, I’m very moved by this.” ?Nathalie reproduces designs from these fabrics, as well as from collected books and costumes, with great artisanal care at a textile mill in Alsace. She has garnered attention from Vogue, House & Garden, Architectural Digest and Bazaar as well as interior decorators around the globe. ” – Greenwich Magazine
Eté Moscovite – Red
“It adds a lot of personality to a space. My dining room walls are covered with fabric in an old Braquenié print. It sets off the paintings, framed textiles, and mirrors in there beautifully. You can also replace a door with a patterned curtain, which I did in my upstairs lounge. Apart from anything else, it makes that area of my house feel cozy and welcoming.” – Nathalie Farman – Farma for Vogue
Casse-noisette – Blue
“Opt for prints that bring out a room’s character. I have a lot of quaint fabrics in my Chelsea townhouse, where the rooms are dainty and set over various floors. My office for Décors Barbares, on the other hand, is housed in a 19th-century artist’s studio, with high ceilings and plenty of light – so I decorated it with more artisanal, primitive textiles.” –?Nathalie Farman – Farma for?Vogue
Dans la Forêt – Green
“You might be inspired by a specific destination or period – or even a character from a novel or film. Every room in my house is influenced by different movements from the 19th-century – which determines my choice of prints. This way, everything works together harmoniously without feeling too “done” – a risk when you worry too much about matching patterns and colours.” – Nathalie Farman-Farma for Vogue
Aurel – Indigo?
Upholstery on chairs is Naboika ?– Indigo
Folklore – Beige
Sadko – Pink
There are so many fabrics in her studio from Eastern Europe, Northern Asia, Russia or Iran. “If your imagination wants that part of the world in your home, then look to me and maybe you’ll find something that suits you and your expression.?It’s like a spice in a spice cabinet. I’m trying to focus on being a certain set of spices, which is not for everybody or every room.”
What an inspiring story, isn’t it? And it hits very close to home for me. Being born and raised in an Eastern European country myself, one of my cherished childhood memories was wearing my traditional folk costume (everyone had one, whether they lived in the country side or the city) to school celebrations. I think my mom must have it stores somewhere. I’ll do some research over the weekend and next week I’ll show you?some of the most beautiful folk costumes of my country, Romania!
Have a great weekend!
?All images are from?Vogue, Décors Barbares, Greenwich Magazine, Architectural Digest.