Here at The Stencil Library, we are always pushing things design wise. We endeavour to make any kind of surface pattern achievable and affordable (note our Chinoiserie range). It is the challenge that drives us forward and keeps us constantly designing. Occasionally, we like to be a bit irreverant. One result was our Bad Attitude range of stencils. Yes, we envisioned tyre tracks across the ceiling or barbed wire up the wall in a teen's room, but we also envisioned designs being given the stylish treatment...the sort of thing where one would walk into a classy room and then later double-take, not realising they were looking at something unexpected. Bad Attitude: subversive and surreal, but can also be very sophisticated and fun. Nowhere encapsulates this look more than Edward James' place West Dean (now an art college) which I was reminded of this month when the latest issue of The World of Interiors magazine landed on the doormat.
(photo: Tim Beddow for The World of Interiors)
Edward James was a poet and famous patron of the surrealist art movement. He was fortunate enough to inherit a large estate and fortune to go with it. In the 1930's he married dancer, actress and painter Tilly Losch. He had a carpet commissioned with the imprint of bare feet walking across it, supposedly inspired by the sight of his wife's wet bare feetprints across the bathroom floor.
(photo source: unknown)
Unfortunately his marriage didn't last long and ended spectacularly whereby he had the carpet replaced with one featuring the prints of "more loyal friends", his Irish wolfhounds. I think I like this one even better. You would be forgiven in missing what the pattern was altogether (have another look at the WOI cover photo above). Again, it is very tonal and subtle. If you look at the decor of the room, it is beautifully and classically decorated and yet, in a madcap way, the carpet features dog prints. Wonderful. They almost look like flowers and at first glance and that would certainly be more expected in such a scheme. This is how I imagined Bad Attitude stencils should be used.
We have a paw print stencil called Beast, code BA8. In black and white, it does look rather sinister. But stencil it without the claw marks and in tonal colours on a floor in a room filled with tasteful antiques and it is no worse than a bit cheeky and it shows off your sense of humour.
We also do a footprint stencil which can be scaled up or down to suit. Again, it is how you use it. But it is such fun to think of it used in a gilded and silk decor.
One of my favourites is our giant fingerprint. On its own, it has undertones of being arrested or bureaucracy and officialdom, but I always reckoned it looked quite textural and would look amazing randomly scattered over a wall sometimes overlapping in a tone on tone colour and as part of a sophisticated room. So at first you would think it is a texture (so hot in decorating right now) and then you would realise it is a load of giant fingerprints.
Sometimes art and decorating can be seen as a bit too serious. To me, the best in both worlds is that which has a bit of playfulness as well as style and sophistication.
(photo: The Stencil Library)
I love our XL Camouflage used here with a load of art deco accessories and furniture. Take something out of context and it looks very different. Who knew camouflage could be stylish.