David Hicks, the celebrated English interior designer of the 1960s loved to clash colours and patterns in his work, and was the epitome of jet-set chic in his day. Fast-forward to these modern times and fabric designer Jane Bonsor admits that her work – a heady combination of bold colours and patterns set off by modern furniture, abstract paintings and a cool palette – has been greatly influenced by his brilliance and signature style.
The founder and creative director of Korla, a design partnership that creates stunning home textiles in contemporary colours and graphic patterns, Jane has designed her London house to fulfil multiple roles. ‘I wanted to create a bright, liveable family home that had flexible spaces that could be divided or used as open plan,’ explains Jane. ‘With my husband Alex who works from home and our three children, we needed plenty of space in order to include an office, playroom and kitchen as well as an adult-only zone.’ Fortunately, the Victorian house is spread over five floors and has enough rooms to create clearly defined spaces for all these functions.
The kitchen and main family living space is located on the ground floor and opens on to a small courtyard garden, which has influenced Jane’s choice of colours. ‘This is where we spend most of our time as a family and I wanted it to be fresh and light so whites, greys and greens have been used to create that warm, happy effect,’ she explains.
The first floor is where the Korla magic really happens. It’s more formal than the ground floor but still witty and playful thanks to Jane’s choice of Korla fabric colours and patterns. Warm red and orange cushions pick up on the hues in the Anish Kapoor etchings and other paintings and furnishings. ‘By having quite simple but classic furniture, I find I can add colour and fun in the fabrics, accessories and blinds,’ explains Jane. ‘I follow the mantra of mixing patterns but keeping the colour palette quite tight and controlled. ‘I like to combine prints in different scales, but don’t worry about making every colour match perfectly – I adore a bit of mix and match to enliven a design and lead your eye around the room.’
Testament to Jane’s approach is the upstairs master bedroom that feels sophisticated and grown-up with its graphic palette of black, grey and white, but with a clash of bold geometric patterned Korla fabrics that look stunning with her choice of vintage pieces and Rajasthan ethnic furniture. ‘I painted one feature wall in bluish-black to balance the lighter whites and mushroom-coloured fabrics,’ she explains. ‘I like the contrasts of this room with its industrial shades, but funky, feminine feel.’
As with all good designers, Jane has avoided resorting to faddish high fashion; she has stuck to what she does best – beautifully considered timeless interiors with a touch of wit. ‘I guess you could call my style contemporary-heritage,’ says Jane. ‘So my home is colourful, eclectic and, hopefully, chic!’
Jane’s Inspiration for her fabric designs come from many sources, especially during her time and travels in Asia. ‘A lot of our fabrics have very specific global influences – Alhambra Stars, Bhutan Lattice, and Kerala Knot, for instance,’ she points out. ‘Our fabric Phoenix was developed from hand-painted birds of paradise on a silk antique kimono I bought in Japan, while Chinese Zodiac is based on a 1970s series of hand-cut animals from Peking celebrating the Chinese New Year.’
Distinguished by its graphic style and confident use of vibrant colour, this is an interior that has achieved a lasting vitality but with a warm welcoming feel. Does Jane have any advice for using fabrics such as hers in a home? ‘To quote David Hicks: “Nondescript rooms can be changed in a flash by using the right stuff for the curtains and furniture”. Wise words indeed!’