Founded by Juliet and Delia, Thornback & Peel are an eclectic British homewares brand inspired by traditional Victoriana and a hint of modernism. Their signature style draws upon the artistic traditions of the nineteenth century and the iconic visuals of Mrs Beeton’s household management, Beatrix Potter’s children’s stories and microscopic imagery of the 17th century. Printed by hand, their beautifully detailed designs exude British eccentricity in their use of colour and subject matter – my favourite has to be the guinea pig and pineapple design.
We spoke to Delia and Julia to find out a little more:
Can you tell us a little about yourselves and your backgrounds?
We met in 2004 through a very clever friend who introduced us sensing that we shared aesthetic. Delia (Peel) had studied textiles at Goldsmiths and was working as a set designer at the Royal Court and Juliet (Thornback) as a florist, but we both were looking to create a business by making something ourselves.
How did Thornback and Peel start, what influenced you?
We began with designing a collection of screen-printed handbags mixing up more conventional floral and geometric patterns along with anatomical imagery like sets of teeth and sections of brains.
In 2006 Thornback & Peel became more established after joining Cockpit Arts, a central London organisation and studio space for independent designer-makers, where we still have our studio today. We reinterpret classic images but like to play with colour, form and scale to produce prints with the charm of the past and the humour of the present.
Can you tell us about the hand printing process and why it’s important to your brand?
We enjoy the mix of mess and precision. The whole studio team are involved from the start of a design to the completion of a product. We relish the many different hoops we have to jump through in the process to make a design beautiful, detailed and crisp. Much of our time goes into creating lines that are fine enough to look right but are thick enough to be printed over and over again. Colour mixing is a particular treat.
What inspires your designs?
We are both drawn towards the aesthetics of natural history and the intricate draftsmanship of Victorian animal engravings.We enjoy taking something well-known and well-loved, and giving it a bit of a twist. Our new Cow & Buttercup print in the SS15 collection was inspired by a line from the verse of the classic English nursery rhyme Ring a Ring o’ Roses: “the cows are in the meadows eating buttercups”. While the Sardine Tin checked print is more of a nod to the idiom ‘packed like sardines’ – something we know well, as we both travel to work by public transport!
What are you working on at the moment?
Our Spring Summer 2016 collection which has been inspired by seasonal foods – vegetables plots & fishmonger’s ‘catch of the day’.