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Meet the Maker: Jenny Simpson from Chelsea Textiles


Chelsea Textiles specialises in beautiful bespoke, hand embroidered textiles. It is a family run business, which was founded in 1990 by our friend, Mona Perlhagen. Mona identified a need for perfect recreations of antique embroidered fabrics and cushions. We were so pleased to create a Collection for Chelsea Textiles, which has proven very successful.

The collection portrays characters and patterns that have a primitive, almost folkloric feel. When studying the collection, one can see a series of narratives that playfully unfold on the fabric, from a Sailor’s Farewell to Mythical Creatures and a modern take on a Suzani.

This week we have interviewed Jenny Simpson, Mona’s daughter, who is director of design at Chelsea Textiles. We think that Jenny is one of the top colourists in the country. Her talent lies within her subtle use of colour and texture.

How would you describe your fabric style in three words?

Classic, timeless and subtle

Where do you get your inspiration from?

We have resources all over the world looking for 18th century embroideries. We love to find old scraps and remnants and bring them back to life. The original documents are becoming harder and harder to find as they have deteriorated over time. We are keeping a lot of these designs going for future generations to enjoy.

What is your favourite fabric of your own designs and why?

My favourite design always changes. At the moment I love the ‘Trailing Honeysuckle’ vine. I just find the colours so soothing and easy on the eye. I have this in my bedroom in the country. It has all the classic seafoam shades that we just love at Chelsea Textiles but then this wonderful strong mustard colour that stops it from being too sweet. I also love that there are little butterflies scattered around too.

How much work goes into the making of your fabrics?

All of our fabrics are embroidered by hand so the process is quite time consuming. The design is first hand drawn by our master craftsmen. The drawing then gets pinned and the design transferred onto fabric using a special solution that penetrates the pin holes and leaves a mark on the fabric that serves as a guide to the embroiderers. We are not restricted by the number of colours and often mix threads to create gradations of colour.

Photo by Luke White

What do you look for when collaborating with designers?

Recreating antique textiles is our passion and we are very specific about the designs we go for. When collaborating, we are looking for something completely different, unusual and modern. Our use of colour, technique and attention to detail binds all of our collections together.

What advice would you give when combining fabrics?

Use different scales, you can mix patterns but the scales have to be different.

Your company started by looking at antique textiles. How have you encompassed a more contemporary design?

By putting older designs of fresher grounds and more muted colour palettes, we find a lot of the old designs have a more contemporary feel to them. Large tree of life designs done in tone on tone work really well in a more contemporary setting. We make a lot of white on white embroidery, which is a timeless classic for any interior.

Chelsea Textiles has recently opened a beautiful new showroom on Pimlico Road, we would definitely recommend a trip to see their wonderful fabrics in person.

CLICK HERE to find out more.

Photo by Luke White
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