Timorous Beasties to Present ‘Toile Tales’ at Musée de la Toile de Jouy

Timorous Beasties, the internationally acclaimed design studio, is to present Toile Tales at Musée de la Toile de Jouy, including a retrospective exhibition and special display of new toiles to accompany a series of tales (9th February – 19th May). 

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Iconic studio showcases retrospective exhibition and new work, celebrating 20 years since the brand’s first toile design.

The Musée de la Toile de Jouy, situated between Paris and Versailles, opened in 1977 and is dedicated to the art and craftsmanship of the Toile de Jouy textiles printed by the Oberkampf factory from 1760 to 1843.

Timorous Beasties, Glasgow Toile Fabric

Timorous Beasties has always been enchanted by the story-telling power of the toiles de Jouy. However, the toile served Timorous Beasties themselves as a medium to subvert the decorative arts. Their first toile – the Glasgow Toile, printed in 2004 – is a raw portrayal of their home city, in which they exchange the arcadian wonder of traditional toiles for some of Glasgow’s grit and gutter, and displace beaux objets for the déplaisant. Following the Glasgow toile, Timorous Beasties explored how the world around us might be framed in a toile design genre, embracing different cities, wide-ranging occasions and subjects.

Timorous Beasties, London Toile Fabric

Timorous Beasties, New York Toile Fabric

To complement this 2024 retrospective exhibition, Timorous Beasties are introducing a new collection of Toile Tales. Inspired by some of the earliest Oberkampf toile patterns depicting Fontaine’s fables, they have developed an oblique divergence whereby toile has come to represent a unique form of story-telling. Indeed, as a popular source of entertainment, as well as instruction regarding the vagaries of human nature, the brevity of fables lent themselves perfectly to instantly recognisable vignettes of pattern and repeat.

New work: The Pocket God

Paul Simmons, Co-Founder of Timorous Beasties says:

‘We are excited to be presenting a new collection of work for Musée de la Toile de Jouy, marking 20 years since our first toile design. From hand printing to digital craft design, we have been able to approach toile printing from a different perspective and yet achieve patterns closely resembling original toiles. In the absence of text, the story-telling power across time and place within the make-up of Toiles de Jouy resonates with us deeply and has set us on our own Toile Tales journey portrayed in this special exhibition.’

New work: The Frog

In order to develop a new perspective in narrative, Timorous Beasties subverted the conventional relationship and process of illustrating text by tasking writer, Steven Dp Richardson, to textually illustrate twenty Timorous Beasties toiles – representing twenty years since the Glasgow Toile. Eight of these Toile Tales will be on display at the exhibition.

Mirrors: The Prodigal Mirror

With the occasional nod to Oberkampf’s production of Fontaine’s fables, the Toile Tales have been composed to engage and delight. All of the stories, like the toiles, have a surreal quality. Sometimes the story’s relevance to the picture is a mere hint of connection in order to stimulate the audience to hunt and search. Sometimes it is amusingly obvious, and sometimes the audience is deliberately led astray. Each of the stories take the audience out of time, suspending them in an ageless, indefinite realm

Musée de la Toile de Jouy

Charlotte Duvivier-Lebrun, Director of Musée de la Toile de Jouy says:

‘We are absolutely delighted to exhibit Timorous Beasties’ work in Musée de la Toile de Jouy. Indeed, every year it highlights contemporary textile designers to explain how Toile de Jouy is still an important source of inspiration for artists. Timorous Beasties has a subversive and original way to get to grips with Toile de Jouy and that’s what the museum’s team immediately liked about its creations. Working with the studio on building the exhibition helped us to improve our understanding and knowledge about contemporary textile design. This collaboration with Timorous Beasties shows that Toile de Jouy is still very modern and timeless.’

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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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