Q&A with Ann Grafton, GP & J Baker

Untitled-3We interview Ann Grafton, Managing Director & Creative Director of GP & J Baker, the century-old English luxury textile and wallpaper house, on design, inspiration and fabric trends.

Bringing over 25 years of design knowledge and expertise to the industry, Ann also works closely with the Kravet Group of which GP & J Baker are a part of and she is also responsible for marketing Kravet, Brunschwig & Fils and Lee Jofa internationally.

Personally holding the Royal Warrant on behalf of GP & J Baker, Ann received the Queen’s Award for export whilst at Colefax and Fowler and wrote the highly successful book “Interior Transformations” published in 2001.

First off Ann, how did you get into design? And what still inspires you today?

My family owned a fashion house so from a very young age I was surrounded by a huge range of the most wonderful textiles.  In my twenties I joined Colefax and Fowler where I became Design and Marketing Director for 18 years.  Today, as Managing and Creative Director of GP & J Baker and Mulberry Home, I am constantly inspired by travel, fashion, our archive and by the innovative techniques mills use to produce our beautiful fabrics and the changing interior trends both in design and colour.

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“I am constantly inspired by travel, fashion, our archive and by the innovative techniques mills”

GP & J Baker are very proud of their Archive, why is it so important?

GP & J Baker make constant use of our archive.  Consisting of a spectacular range of documents which date back to before the 1750’s which has provided inspiration for the design studio since the company was founded in 1884. The collection was extended by George Percival and James Baker over 40 years and today represents one of the largest privately owned textile archive in the world.

It is amazingly diverse ranging from Italian and Turkish velvets, beautiful Indian prints, French toiles, Indonesian batiks, early English glazed chintz prints and Art Nouveau original paintings. To date only a fraction of this resource has been used which means that our studios will be able to explore its rich heritage for decades to come.

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What is your favourite era of design? And what design have you enjoyed modernising?

Rather than a particular era, I would choose the beautiful Indienne patterns which were so admired and sought after in the 18th and 19th centuries.  India’s rich history of textiles, including traditional block prints and hand woven techniques, has inspired many of the designs in GP & J Baker’s collections.  One of our newest, ‘Artisan’ was derived from old hand block prints and some of the designs came from traditional wedding shawls, their intricate designs simplified and have been hand block printed on linen and cotton in a monochromatic colour palette ranging from deep indigo to pale aquas and neutrals.

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“India’s rich history of textiles, including traditional block prints and hand woven techniques, has inspired many of the designs in GP & J Baker’s collections”

We are seeing a lot of traditional design mixed with contemporary at the moment, what is your advice on to effectively achieve the best look?

Mixing traditional designs with contemporary can be exciting and inspiring.  Linking different styles with details or colour accents can achieve a very personal and unique interior.  Emphasize the contrasts such as a huge sofa upholstered in softly coloured fabrics such as linen or velvet keeping the rest of the interior neutral and adding a patterned rug and cushions to accentuate the beauty of the fabric you have chosen.  One of the latest trends is to upholster modern pieces of furniture with classic iconic printed fabrics such as those from the Baker Originals collections which can create colour and drama. 

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“One of the latest trends is to upholster modern pieces of furniture with classic iconic printed fabrics”

Going forward what do you see as the next big trend for fabric design?

The opulence and glamour associated with velvet is very much back in vogue.  Plain velvets have always created theatre and luxury and are now available in every conceivable colour and this distinctly tactile fabric is proving invaluable to interior decorators.  Velvet absorbs colour in the most sensational way giving the fabric great depth and the advances in digital printing provide clarity and definition to very intricate pattern with an infinite degree of flexibility.   The new ‘Rio’ collection from GP & J Baker shows how extraordinary and exciting designs, enhanced by the natural sheen of the fabric can look amazing.

 CONTACT GP & J BAKER

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About Nadia Hussain

Nadia is the Senior Marketing and Membership Executive for the BCFA. She has an eye for detail and is always on the look-out for new and funky trends in the industry. If you would like to appear in the Design Insider Live please do send over an email to nadia@thebcfa.com
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Comments

  • Sandra Clark

    I found a copy of your “Interior Transformations” at a thrift shop in a tiny nearby Texas town a few days ago, and I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy looking through it. I live in a 1940-built home without running water and I dream about the day I will be able to put some of your ideas into use to make my home beautiful and comfortable.Thank you for all your time, talent and effort in producing this book as well as inspiring others through your website and business. The LORD bless you~ Sandra Clark

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