When British Fashion Designer Matthew Williamson moved from his home town of Manchester to London at the young age of 17 to study fashion design, little did he know that his career would take flight. Bursting onto the fashion scene in the ‘90s, Matthew’s colourful clothing creations have since graced the likes of Jade Jagger, Kate Moss, Sienna Miller and Poppy Delevingne, to name a few.
Now, 20 years on, his kaleidoscopic aesthetic continues to pack a punch. Matthew has recently shifted his focus and taken a leap from fashion to interiors. Collaborating with Nottingham-based sofa manufacturer Duresta, this beautifully crafted collection of statement seating and occasional pieces, perfectly embodies Matthew’s flamboyant flair. The exciting new collection will be available at Baker and Stonehouse this autumn.
Surrounded by glistening boho beaded gowns, we sat down with Matthew to discuss his exciting collaboration, contagious passion for interior design and the secret successes behind his widely-adored designer look.
Congratulations on your latest collaboration with Duresta. Tell us a little more about what drew you to work with the team there:
Matthew Willamson: Duresta is a brilliant British brand based in Long Eaton, Nottinghamshire, a place regarded as the heart of the upholstery industry. I’ve always been drawn to any business or maker that values and demonstrates honed British craftsmanship as well as long lasting quality, and Duresta certainly has these attributes. From initial sketches right through to finished product, every piece of furniture at Duresta is skilfully made by hand just as they have been for over 75 years now.
This collection, from sofas and armchairs to day beds, coffee tables and wine tables, took us around two years to develop. Making my first ever line of furniture with Duresta has been a real passion project; it’s been an exciting journey to see the pieces come to life. I’m thrilled to find the ‘Duresta for Matthew Williamson’ collection now stocked in Barker and Stonehouse’s evergrowing portfolio of stores.
What was your inspiration for the furniture collection?
MW: The collection came to life by exploring pieces I own myself. This is because it was hugely important to me that I could see this collection in my own home, as well as in those owned by Matthew Williamson followers. Drawing inspiration from my fashion designs, I have also been influenced by the colours and textures of items bought from antique markets or dealers over the years. I collect swatches of anything that catches my eye so it was a fun process to build a collection that came from my favourite personal pieces – I like to call it my own design DNA.
Duresta for Matthew Williamson Minnelli Sofa
Where do you call home, and what’s it like?
MW: I live in a ground-floor apartment in a mid-19th century, Italianate-style semi townhouse in North-West London. I’ve lived in North London for about 15 years now and I don’t think I would move anywhere else. This place, with its parquet floors and big French doors, has great scale and bones which I found immediately attractive when I first saw the apartment three-and a half years ago. It’s a real treasure trove of collected possessions displayed throughout my living/dining room, kitchen, three bedrooms, bathroom and shower room. Inside, it might look like it’s just been thrown together in five minutes, but actually everything has its own place.
A friend recently described my style as ‘organised bohemia’, and I think that’s a good way to label it. I’d say it’s got a loose and laid back glamour. I like to mix refined buys and a backdrop of pale greys with vibrant accessories and my own handicraft. For example, I’ve used dip-dye fringing left over from one of my old collection dresses to update a lampshade and a découpage of Fornasetti-inspired butterflies to disguise a boiler cupboard in my bathroom. Metallic wallpaper on my chimney breast and a giant peacock are two of the main features in my living room; it’s a grand space so I didn’t want it to appear too serious.
Do you have a favourite piece?
MW: I love the flamingo and peacock tables; I imagined these being such practical yet whimsical pieces in the range and the result is spot on. The Kemp sofa in my signature print Butterfly Wheel Jade print is also up there, as it offers a striking shape that doesn’t compromise on comfort which is just what you want from seating in your home.
Duresta for Matthew Williamson Wine Table and Tango Sofa & Chair
It seems that interior alongside design has always been a passion of yours?
MW: That’s right, it’s no secret that I’ve loved interiors ever since I was a little boy. I remember asking my parents to paint my bedroom walls in lilac and the woodwork and radiator in silver! I still carry the same passion today; to create a space that reflects my personality and that is somewhere I feel happy to be in. My home, much like my fashion, is eclectic and globally influenced, with bright and bold colour and lots of attention to detail. It’s a combination of mixed and matched foundations that have been built on over the years. My good friend Kelly Hoppen and I laugh all the time about our interior styles because they are polar opposites. I think there’s room for a healthy balance between the two. Whatever you choose to explore, make sure that you are experimental as, in my opinion, it pays off.
Do you have any top tips to keep a living space looking fresh and stylish?
MW: I enjoy regularly moving things around in my home to keep it different. A lot of friends visit and ask if I have bought a new piece but I’ve simply moved its location. It’s easier than you think to help make your space evolve and by adding a few small touches here and there, you can help to update your look. Flowers, candles, cushions, book piles and pictures are easy ways to add subtle areas of interest. I love collecting books and have to admit to being a bit obsessive about how they are displayed. I like to pile them up around the house in various colour combinations to become little platforms for displaying your favourite pieces. This is an easy thing to do and has become a regular ever-changing aspect in my home.
Duresta for Matthew Williamson Tango Sofa & Chair
Finally, what would be your advice to a new designer?
MW: My only real advice is to believe in yourself. If you’re confident and have a unique point of view, then you have the foundations for everything else to slot into place. It may take years to come together and lots of hard work, but the first step is to be clear on what you’re making. If it’s desirable and made with passion, chances are people will respond positively.