Chintz: love it or hate it?
In the last few years, chintz has been appearing everywhere – on walls, on furniture, on clothes… We’re fascinated with this renaissance, particularly with the contemporary surface pattern designers who have embraced the centuries-old process and reinvented it for the modern era.
There are many excellent articles online exploring the origins of chintz, so I won’t go into too much detail here. The definition of “Chintz” from Britannica is as follows:
“Chintz – plain-woven, printed or solid-colour, glazed cotton fabric, frequently a highly glazed printed calico. Originally “chintz” (from the Hindi word meaning “spotted”) was stained or painted calico produced in India.”
The original process of producing chintz was time-consuming (hand-crafted) and costly in terms of labour, making it a very desirable high-end product. However, in the modern era, the manufacturing processes have been industrialised and now much of the contemporary chintz fabrics are mass-produced. Whilst not technically chintz, contemporary designs (often described as “chintz-style” fabric) retain the aesthetic essence of the original chintz designs.
Does chintz work in contemporary interiors?
Online, if you google “chintz interiors”, you’ll see an overwhelming range of styles and eras. What amazes us is how modern the early examples of chintz seem now; it’s difficult to tell the difference in periods between contemporary chintz interiors and some of the images from the palatial historic houses dotted throughout the UK and beyond.
Two of the companies that I think are doing chintz very well today are House of Hackney and Emma J Shipley.
These British companies were started by ambitious young people (House of Hackney is a husband-and-wife team and EJS was created by a graduate from the Royal College of Art) with a flair for conjuring up wild vistas and landscapes in surface pattern form. Their creations lend themselves perfectly to the fairy tale world of chintz.
It seems that the resurgence of chintz has developed alongside the maximalist design movement, bringing together vibrant colours and patterns in a celebration (some might say) of over-the-top interior design. Maximalism and chintz is definitely not for everyone! We think it has its place in the world of interiors. But, in our opinion, “less is more”; such as a highly patterned chintz sofa in a moody, dark-coloured room sitting alongside a few other complimentary, more simple pieces.
Chintz doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon, so we say embrace the look!
Three of my favourite companies doing chintz-style fabric very well:
Emma J Shipley : the queen of pattern, Emma J Shipley’s furnishing fabrics are a favourite amongst upholsterers, combining beautiful images with unusual colour palettes.
House of Hackney : a global interiors company originating in London that has revitalised the world of chintz.
Morris & Co : the eponymous British heritage brand continues to extend their pattern archive and their fabrics never seem to go out of fashion.
Some interesting articles about the history of chintz and its rise and fall… and rise again:
“Indian Chintz – A Legacy of Luxury” by Simran Lal, from the V & A Blog
“The floral fabric that was banned” by Joobin Bekhrad, from BBC.com
“Chintz: the print with serious staying power”, from F & P Interiors
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