Wednesday, January 08, 2014

A Dash of Damask

Damask-style prints have long occupied neutral territory for me.  In the past, I haven't been wild about them, but then again, I haven't disliked them, either.  I suppose that I just never thought much about them.  That is, until last October when World of Interiors featured the London town house of decorator Veere Grenney and David Oliver, creative director of the Paint and Paper Library.  The whole town house is really quite fabulous, but it was the house's dining room and sitting room, above, that really captured my attention.  I found the pair's use of Louvres, a Fortuny-esque cotton made by Marialida for Tissus d'Hélène, quite striking.  Although the fabric's print is reminiscent of "Baroque foliate pattern found in flock wallpapers of the early 18th century," I consider it to be a damask print.  The dark brown and white coloration makes this traditional print appear cool and dignified rather than precious or ostentatious.  And, any of the damask print's long-associated fussiness has been banished thanks to the room's clean-lined, contemporary furnishings.

So, it seems that if you want to decorate with damask prints and maintain some sense of modernity, the key is to use neutral-toned damask prints (think caramel, chocolate brown, and even shades of grey) and to balance the print's inherent ornateness with simple upholstered seating, solid fabrics, and restrained-looking tables and case pieces.  Just look to the work of David Hicks, John Fowler, Tom Parr, and now Veere Grenney and David Oliver to help guide the way.

For this apartment in Paris, David Hicks created a wallcovering, made of white impasto on linen, that was inspired by 17th-century damasks.

Tom Parr chose "Double Damask" paper, which was based on an 18th-century design, for his Eaton Square, Belgravia drawing room.

John Fowler also used "Double Damask" paper in brown and cream at Nantclwyd Hall.

The fabric that covered the walls of this French study was a cut velvet, which featured a damask-type print.

Photo at top: World of Interiors, October 2013, Simon Upton photographer; Hicks photos from David Hicks: Designer and David Hicks: A Life in Design by Ashley Hicks; Parr photo from House & Garden Guide to Interior Decoration; Fowler photo from John Fowler by Martin Wood; last two photos from Architectural Digest- International Interiors


  1. Stunning examples of damasks in ... well.. FABULOUS interiors! I have a touch here and there in fabrics on window treatments. Love....

    Beautiful images....


  2. I saw acres of Fortuny damask-printed textiles lining the walls of Ca Rezzonico in Venice and to be honest, wasn't overwhelmingly happy with it. My preference is for a damask weave rather than a print – subtler, somehow when the pattern is a combination of plain- and satin-weaves in a majestically colored silk. A cut velvet in a similar pattern is an alternative. The name "damask", as I'm sure you know, derives from the name of the city Damascus.

    I have a length of chrome yellow silk damask, forty years old, with a pattern repeat that is as tall as me. Have I ever shown you this?

  3. Jennifer, I do love the chocolate brown and white color palette, it gives the Damask pattern more of a fresh look.
    Wishing you and yours all the best in 2014!
    The Arts by Karena

  4. I have always loved the damask of Fortuny! + Veere Grenney and David Oliver's flat in UK is divine.

  5. The richness is embracing...time to add life and movement and COLOR to our rooms! And more vintage Fortuny pillows (just a thought). I love the connections between the princes of 20th c. decoration and current English trends.