Category Archives: Design Week

Kellogg College Design Week: Cultural Capital and Commercial Enterprise

Kellogg student Melena Meese writes about her research trip to Paris, for Kellogg’s first Design Week (1-4 December), to discover the archives of the French fabric company Pierre Frey. 

On a mission with the Kellogg based forum for Decorative Arts and Phenomenology (DAP), co-founder Maximilian Buston and I recently visited the archives of French fabric company Pierre Frey in Paris. Along with a fascinating delve into the archive collections, we also caught up with the company’s creative director Patrick Frey for a lively discussion about the company’s innovative use of archive designs in creating new collections. Pierre Frey is collaborating with DAP on the upcoming series of events being held at Kellogg College, University of Oxford, as part of Design Week: Textiles.

In tandem with the focus on scholarship in the fields of Decorative Arts and Design, one of DAP’s core aims is to reach beyond academia to engage outside cultural entities, practising designers and the broader commercial sector for the exchange of knowledge. Traditionally more prevalent in the sciences, Knowledge Exchange is beginning to gain wider currency in the arts and humanities. Knowledge Exchange can be defined as the process which brings together academic staff, users of research and wider groups and communities to exchange ideas, evidence and expertise. The DAP collaboration with Pierre Frey is an example of this process in action.

Ralph Lauren Flagship

The Ralph Lauren flagship store in Paris proudly perched on Boulevard Saint-Germain. The building in its current glory represents the culmination of a major preservation project undertaken by the company as part of its brand story. 

The revitalization of a number of heritage brands in the retail sector in recent years has prompted the mining of archives for brand history and inspiration, highlighting the vital role of archival work in shaping company communications and product development. Projects involving company archives are just one example of the opportunities for academic collaboration with the commercial sector. Designers often have the same unerring eye for detail (while simultaneously being mindful of its relationship to wider contexts) that also characterises the work of a scholar. Furthermore, successful design-led luxury brands are likely to possess the rare combination of erudition, passion, vested interest and deep pockets necessary to undertake projects underpinned by extensive research. It is worth investigating their potential as not only financial sponsors, but as collaborative partners with researchers.

The retailer Ralph Lauren often integrates historical detail into its brand and has undertaken several high profile conservation projects including a collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution to restore and display The Star-Spangled Banner. Maximilian and I managed to squeeze in a quick visit to the Ralph Lauren flagship store during our trip to view the company’s conservation efforts up close. The stunning building is the result of a major restoration project spanning over four years that involved artisans working with traditional materials and techniques to restore or replicate original decorative features and required prolonged archaeological work upon the discovery of a Roman well beneath the building. The company had a key role in the direction of the research connected to the project.

Ralph Lauren Dining Room

Ralph’s restaurant located in the former stables and carriage houses of the restored 17th century hôtel particulier that houses the company’s flagship store in Paris.

Kellogg College is particularly well placed to facilitate knowledge exchange projects with its vibrant mix of full-time postgraduate students, along with mature and part-time students possessing a wealth of current and past career experience and networks – many of which are in the design, heritage and cultural sectors. Kellogg’s links to the Department for Continuing Education and its architecture, decorative arts and design-related programmes are also an asset. It is hoped that the design week will not only highlight arts and culture at Kellogg, but also spark further collaborations both within and outside of the University.

Melena Meese
DPhil student in Architectural History

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.