Kellogg College Design Week – Visiting the Pierre Frey Archive

Kellogg College’s inaugural Design Week is taking place in College from Monday 1st to Thursday 4th December. In the first of our Design Week blog posts, DPhil student and Junior Dean Maximilian Buston writes about his recent trip to Paris in search of the textiles that will be showcased in an exhibition during the week. 

Sinking into luxury at the Pierre Frey Showroom, 27 rue du Mail, Paris

Sinking into luxury at the Pierre Frey Showroom, 27 rue du Mail, Paris

“Hail, the patrimony lives” (Sophie Rouart) – everyone knows that Paris is a magical delight, especially for the designer. Not only are there the principal showrooms of Charles Burger, Lelievre and Edmond Petit, but also the Musée du Louvre where many original designs of fabrics now produced can be found.
One little known treasure house is the archive room of the celebrated French textile house, Pierre Frey. Both eclectic and classic, Pierre Frey was founded in 1935 and now includes the historic brands of Braquenié (1824), Le Manach (1829), Fadini Borghi (1947) and Boussac (1933). Visiting their head office, Melena Meese (Consultant) and I met with Sophie Rouart (curator) and Patrick Frey (President & Creative Director) to discover how Pierre Frey uses their archive to inspire their new collections.
Melena Meese speaks with Patrick Frey in the archive room at the Pierre Frey headquarters.

Melena Meese speaks with Patrick Frey in the archive room at the Pierre Frey headquarters.

Sophie Rouart opened drawers of treasures (there are some 25,000 original fabrics) including well-preserved damasks over 400 years old, still rich and vibrant. Amongst the collection is the original Les Monuments d’Égypte designed in 1808 at the Oberkampf factory at Jouy-en-Josas. At this time cotton came to be the most important commodity in Europe, fuelling the industrial revolution. The Oberkampf factory printed 1.5 million metres of fabric in 1818 alone. It also gives the name to Toile de Jouy, synonymous to the fabulous printed cottons with narrative scenes.
18th Century Documents, one of which is Choiseul, now available as a wallpaper in the Braquenié collection. Pierre Frey has adapted the colours and scale of the original design for its use today.

18th Century Documents, one of which is Choiseul, now available as a wallpaper in the Braquenié collection. Pierre Frey has adapted the colours and scale of the original design for its use today.

Maximilian Buston and Sophie Rouart examine Les Travaux de la Manufacture c. 1783-84, a toile depicting the complex stages of production at the Oberkampf factory at Jouy.

Maximilian Buston and Sophie Rouart examine Les Travaux de la Manufacture c. 1783-84, a toile depicting the complex stages of production at the Oberkampf factory at Jouy.

Pierre Frey is now known for it’s unrelenting eclecticism, not only do they champion 18th Century toiles but reinterpret them in new materials and colours. Their new fabrics always push at the boundaries and Patrick was keen to mention an upcoming collection, Origins, inspired by the aboriginal art of Australia that is due to be launched in 2015.

Sophie Rouart described the important collection as a “conservatory of fabrics and patterns… that inspires new designs by understanding what came before. Customers from the States like to come to us to discover this… It’s like a dancer who learns the classical positions and creates new combinations for the performance.”

Pierre Frey, in association with Distinctive Interiors, are exhibiting a selected collection at Kellogg College, University of Oxford, in December 2014. This venture is part of DAP, the Decorative Arts and Phenomenology Forum, that was co-founded by Maximilian Buston and Melena Meese in May 2014 as part of their DPhil Research and Distinctive Interiors’ 30th Anniversary Celebrations. To find out more visit the DAP Page.

Maximilian Buston.

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