The ancient tradition of handmade block printing is being revived by three designers—Celerie Kemble, Thomas O’Brien and John Robshaw—in fresh, contemporary ways. Check out the beautiful looks the designers have come up with and the creative process behind them:
Well-known interior designer Celerie Kemble’s line of hand-blocked wallpapers for Schumacher take the technique to a more modern level. Sisal textures in unexpected colors are block printed with metallic paint or rich hues that have small intentional imperfections which give the papers character. “In life as in design, it is not perfection you should be after,” says Celerie. “There’s beauty in the faded and worn, the well loved, and the sentimental” (kembleinteriors.com) Below we see the room she designed for the 2013 Hamptons Designer Show House, where she featured one of the most popular wallpapers from her line, Acanthus Stripe.
Lee Jofa’s history is rich in hand blocking. Many of their original documents and most popular patterns were made using the technique. Recently, Lee Jofa asked designers, including the esteemed Thomas O’Brien, to reinterpret a classic Lee Jofa fabric according to his or her own style. O’Brien chose the iconic, intricate block printed pattern Nympheus, which he recolored using a more muted palette. Below we see Thomas in an office covered with his adapted version of Nympheus.
Original blocks used to make Lee Jofa’s Pertelote pattern
Other Hand-Blocked Patterns from Lee Jofa:
John’s passion for travel is what led him to learn the process of handblocking. “It’s so simple and natural,” he says. “You touch a woodblock to wet clay and then to the fabric. After the clay dries, you dip the cloth into the indigo vat…” Since his first experience with the block printing process, John has created several of his own versions for his personal line and patterns with a block-printed look in his collection of fabrics for Duralee.” I was completely fascinated by the dyeing and printing processes, as well as how the finished product is used” (johnrobshaw.com). Below you can see the blocks he uses to create the handmade prints.
For more on this unique trend, sign up for our Newsletter.