Design Centre Stories

Antiquity Revived

Classical design may be based on logic and order, but it nonetheless has the power to stir the emotions, and is still a vital inspiration today. Architectural details such as columns and friezes can be endlessly reinvented for today’s interiors, while the stories of the classical world, as told through art and sculpture, are stitched through the history of design.

Classical busts – complete with chipped noses – feature on Lizzo’s painterly ‘Sculpture’ linen (pictured above), part of the Gentry collection, which references the treasures of great historic houses.

For centuries the classical myths were considered the most noble subject matter in art, and they can still bring a sense of gravitas to a design scheme. This ‘Diane Chasseresse’ fabric (above left) by Casal (available from Houlès) depicts Diana the huntress, complete with swags, medallions and other tropes of neoclassical style. Savoir Beds’ collaboration with Zardi & Zardi has resulted in this sumptuous bespoke bed (above right) featuring a reproduction of an 18th-century Flemish tapestry, The Procession of Bacchus, framed with a hand-rolled edge and with nailing in old gold.

Oficina Inglesa Furniture is known for its attention to historical detail, with many pieces inspired by classical design, including this hand-carved ‘Aphrodite’ footstool (above left) upholstered with Rubelli fabric, while McKinnon and Harris’s ‘Suhling’ table is a modern, minimal take on the theme, with a simple fluted base and stone top; a complementary side table reduces the design to merely the column.

The simple geometry of a ‘Greek key’ design – the meandering line of right-angles that’s one of the most common motifs in classical art and architecture – is continually being reinterpreted by product designers. Although it’s normally a motif that’s crisply picked out, Tufenkian Artisan Carpets has its own take: its ‘Artemis II’ hand-knotted silk rug (pictured above left) allows the pattern to advance and recede via a series of faded colours, a look that echoes that of a time-worn fresco. Brentano’s ‘Marquee’ upholstery fabric (above right; available from Altfield), meanwhile, was inspired by the Greek key but instead of a meandering design it has concentric squares in dramatically contrasting colours. Meanwhile, the linear bands of decoration at the Greek-revival Villa Kerylos on the Côte d’Azur were the inspiration for interior designer Michael Aiduss’ collection of passementerie for Houlès (main image, top): lines of scrolls and spirals pick up on the details of the villa’s celebrated decor.

Altfield, Second Floor, Centre Dome (open Monday – Friday, 11am –4pm; trade appointments only)
Houlès, Second Floor, South Dome (open Tuesday – Friday, 10am – 4pm)
Lizzo, Ground Floor, South Dome (open Monday – Friday, 10.30am – 2.30pm, with a 4.30pm closing time on Thursday)
Oficina Inglesa Furniture, Third Floor, Design Centre East (open Monday – Friday, 9.30am – 5.30pm)
McKinnon and Harris, Second Floor, North Dome (open Monday – Friday, 9.30am – 5.30pm)
Savoir Beds, First Floor, South Dome (open Monday – Friday, 9.30am – 5.30pm)
Tufenkian Artisan Carpets, Third Floor, Centre Dome (open Monday – Friday, 9.30am – 5.30pm)