Interviews: Timorous Beasties + Panaz Unique Collaboration

Timorous Beasties, the internationally acclaimed Glasgow based design studio collaborated with Panaz, global manufacturer of high quality decorative contract fabrics, to launch a new luxury contract performance collection of contemporary textiles during this year’s Clerkenwell Design Week. The new designs were showcased in a special exhibition at Panaz’s new London showroom and we met with Paul Simmons, Co-Founder of Timorous Beasties and Sarah Lloyd, Design Director at Panaz to ask them more about the creative process behind this collection and what the new designs offer the commercial interiors sector.

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Please could you introduce yourself, your role and Timorous Beasties?

Alistair McAuley and Paul Simmons, Founders of Timorous Beasties

My name is Paul Simmons, I am the Co-Founder of Timorous Beasties and I am also Head of Creative of the company. Timorous Beasties is a multi-disciplinary textiles studio focusing on hand and digitally printed fabrics, wallpaper, bespoke design commissions, and unique brand collaborations.

What were the starting points for the designs in this collection?

Flight Ombre, Intaglio Collection

The starting point of the collection was drawing. Drawing has always been one of our main preoccupations, we feel it’s a definite part of our DNA.

I think everything starts with drawing but I also looked at old engravings and what we call intaglio prints of yesteryear, and the qualities that they bring.

The old engravings that I was particularly interested in were found in antique books, especially the work of Maria Sybillia Merian and also the old techniques of copper plate printing onto textiles, and trying to re-draw the designs in the same manner.

Could you talk us through your design creation and development process?

The collection started with a design that we call Jungle Tangle, which had a vision of being a bit like a wall of drawing, rather like Phil Spector had a ‘wall of sound’, but this was like a ‘giant hedge’ of drawing. Because the design is what we call an ‘all over’ pattern, a lot of the drawing and the images could be seen from any angle, which makes it easy to use for upholstery without any waste. Also, it was intended to look like a texture from a distance and then when you look closely, you can see all the plants and jungle-esque images that are tangled up in the drawing.

Trailing Botanic – Wide Width Railroaded Sheer

Following on from this, we have Epic Botanic, which is a design influenced by old botanical engravings and it has been re-envisaged at a very large scale, so it’s quite dramatic. The idea was that you could have a dramatic design and yet use quite simple fabrics to go with it. The colours also work with a lot of the plain fabrics that Panaz has in its collection.

Another design is called Flight, which follows the theme of the intaglio (print/engraving) look. It’s of butterflies entangled in various flowers, but the idea here is that it’s just kept as a drawn line, so that although it is busy, it is also monotone. Different types of butterflies feature on the design and it has a vertical direction intended for curtains.

For the voile fabrics, I wanted to keep more of a traditional look, with a contemporary nod at the same time. 

So it was a case of changing the way that the curtains are used. With the transparent fabrics, the design tumbles down from the top, so that you have a dense pattern which thins out as it makes its way down, almost like having some kind of vine on a canopy or a vine falling down from a height.

The other voile fabric is the Jungle Tangle pattern, but it can work from top down or bottom up. But the design fades and almost disappears. For many voiles, one doesn’t necessarily want to block the view but rather have a subtle barrier between the outside and the inside.

Does this collection fit with the current or emerging commercial interior trend?

I don’t follow trends, but I think this collection is very adaptable – I think you can find any element that you need in an interior in this collection. I also think it adds character and a certain feeling of comfort and familiarity, but at the same time not in a nostalgic frumpy way. I think it makes it fresh and works in a modern way. A new interpretation – maybe you could call that idiosyncratic. I think a lot of hotels and certainly a lot of interiors are looking to create an aesthetic that is more bespoke and achieves a fresh look but with the comfort of some pattern. And I think this collection brings that element with it.

What does the future hold for this collaboration?

The collection has already received a great response. So we will look to continue on with other ideas, other ways of doing things and further collaborations.


Please could you introduce yourself, your role and Panaz?

Sarah Lloyd, Design Director at Panaz

I’m Sarah Lloyd, Design Director at Panaz, global manufacturer of high quality decorative contract fabrics for the hospitality, healthcare, cruise and corporate sectors. I lead our team of in-house designers to drive the creative vision and presentation of our products. We design and develop woven, dyed and printed collections with a focus on ensuring they always meet the needs of our customers and the requirements and expectations of the commercial market. That said, we are passionate about design, and creativity is at our heart. I personally enjoy the complexity of textiles and also the freedom that digitally printed textiles offer, making this collaboration a joy to be a part of.

How did your collaboration with Timorous Beasties begin and why were they the ideal partner for this collaboration? 

We have a long-supporting relationship with Timorous Beasties and have been working with them for the last 10 years, helping to support them on specific contract custom projects.

This collaboration started as a conversation about what a combined contract solution would look like. Both of our businesses have embraced digital print to explore new base cloths. The idea of co-ordinating sumptuous patterns with plains and different textures was also a driver behind the concept. This is a real opportunity to provide statement design, taking something that’s familiar to designers in a retail setting and transposing it into a contract story. Timorous Beasties are also known for their wallcoverings being used in some hospitality settings and now their unique design is available on fire retardant fabric.

How does this collection answer the needs of your customers in relation to both the surface design, base fabrics and sustainability?

Intaglio collection will be interesting for designers who love the Timorous Beasties’ brand and its styling. This collaboration offers something different to customers and provides designers with a collection of contract fabrics that are sophisticated yet unexpected, placing emphasis on detail, both in terms of pattern and chosen materials.

The base cloths have been designed with sustainability in mind and are suitable for various end uses, for example our digital print process is water free, and cloths are printed onto inherently flame retardant, Trevira CS base.

We are also proud to be able to offer customers a locally sourced product, making these fabrics an environmentally considered choice; all of the print production is undertaken on site at Panaz’s factory in the UK and our jacquard base cloth is woven in Lancashire.

How does this collection fit with your existing and future Panaz portfolio?

Epic Botanic Epic is the hero design of the capsule collection

Here at Panaz, we’re keen to remain at the forefront of design when it comes to contract fabrics. We update our portfolio regularly to keep up to date with market trends and we’re proud to be able to offer our customers designs that not only look good, but that are fit for purpose too.

What we always try to do, and have also done as part of this collection, is to include existing Panaz upholsteries and plain curtains into the marketing proposition so that users can see how these can work as a full scheme. There are many other fabrics from our range that can support a full furnishing solution.

What does the future hold for this collaboration?

We have already seen huge interest in this collection, and it’s been a great opportunity for us to engage with our existing customer base. We hope that this will also spark an influx of new business for Panaz.

It’s been a pleasure to have been able to collaborate with Timorous Beasties, we’re really proud of this collection. And as for what the future holds, a second collection would be great, but we’ll just have to wait and see!

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About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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