By Gabrielle Milner, Bernard Interiors
On the 5th March, our MD Jen Bernard, accompanied by three of our senior designers, Julia, Giedre and myself, took a (bright and early!) train direct from Newcastle to London to visit one of our trusted fabric and wallpaper suppliers – GP & J Baker.
Upon arrival at their Chelsea Harbour showroom, it was clear that they were ramping up for the annual London Design Week – luckily for us, we got a sneak preview! The showroom, located within Design Centre East, was adorned with beautifully hung fabrics and wallpaper from their seven brands. GP & J represent Mulberry Home, Threads, Baker Lifestyle, Kravet, Brunschwig & Fils and Lee Jofa alongside their original GP & J Baker collection. The diverse range of collections create a broad offering for GP & J customers whilst making fabrics and wallpapers accessible for a variety of budgets.
Founded in 1884 by brothers George Percival and James Baker, GP & J Baker have a rich and extensive history as well as one of the largest textile archives in the world, which their designers regularly draw inspiration from for their collections. Kate Smith, our GP & J representative, revealed that in fact most pieces within their collection have been inspired by archival prints and fabrics – some of which date back as early as 300 years ago. With over 3000 books containing archive pieces, GP & J have donated a number of fabrics and garments to the V&A, where they are on display to the public. The company, now owned by the Kravet family, has had some fabric designs in repeat production for the past 100 years, giving testament to the fact that some designs truly are timeless and will forever have a place in our interiors.
After an extensive exploration of the fabric lined showroom, we placed (rather large!) orders for fabric and wallpaper samples for upcoming projects. We were then introduced to Ann Grafton, managing and creative director of GP & J Baker, who told us a little more about the history of the company and how they have been a holder of the Royal Warrant since 1982 – the company supply the royal household with fabrics and wall coverings from the GP & J Baker collection. This prestigious relationship has led to a collaboration with the Historic Royal Palaces and the creation of a collection inspired by numerous royal locations, interiors and treasures from Hampton Court Palace to the crown jewels.
Following on from our showroom visit, we were guided up to the GP & J design studio by Ann and Kate. In the studio we were greeted by the design team and introduced to lead designer Shauna Dennison, who gave us an inspiring sneak preview of upcoming collections. We were even given the opportunity to highlight our favourites, securing those individual fabrics as part of the new collection. Needless to say this was a rather tricky task and I’m not sure if we helped at all in condensing the fabric collection as we highlighted virtually everything!
Before heading to Kings Cross to catch our train back to Newcastle, we were shown some stunning original pieces from one of GP & J’s archive books. A surprising depth of colour and intricate detail adorned the unique and rare pieces that were displayed before us. Each piece of fabric, handled with extreme care by the design team, was clearly a treasure that would be used to inspire future fabrics and wallcoverings. We certainly hope to see our favourite archive pieces in the GP & J Baker collections in years to come!