It’s Child’s Play

Hi Elsie here,

It isn’t something you do every day but when you get involved in designing a child’s bedroom it is so much fun!!!!

Through the years I have been very lucky to design many children’s bedroom soft furnishings. It never ceases to amaze me at the scarcity of choice.  

Read on to see what I found?




Children’s books have been a wonderful place to start where interiors have been concerned.

From Beatrix Potter, Winnie The Pooh and more recently some of Roald Dahl’s creations.

Osborne & Little/London

                                                           Osborne & Little . Zagazoo                                                    

Roald Dahl Collection with John Lewis and CB Interiors

 Roald Dahl Collection with John Lewis and CB Interiors


John Lewis Bedding

I find children’s interior design liberating in ways that other rooms are not. Clients embrace their own inner child when making choices for their offspring. They are not frightened of colour and being brave with it. Nor are they worried about lots of little details, textures and quirks.

Guess Who. Scion

Scion‘s (part of the Harlequin Group) latest collection Guess Who? is wonderfully quirky, inventive and colourful. It is a collection of wallpapers, fabrics and other accessories that are fun and liberating to work with.

Guess Who_11_ER

Guess Who_14_ER

Guess Who_02_ER

It is really funny, because even though these are children’s designs I would be quite happy to use some of the fabrics (even the ones like the birds above) in any room in the house. As I have said this book is lots of fun. Quite a hit for SCION‘s FIRST CHILDREN’s COLLECTION!!!

Guess Who_05_ER

This Guess who wallpaper is particularly brave in its choice of depth of colour. But I feel the dark background enhances those wonderful colours of the animals bringing them to life.

Harlequin have always been ahead of the game with their children’s designs. They are equally as good with boys as well as girls rooms. What is also great is the way they make sure there are always colour-ways that are gender neutral which is awesome. I like pink but sometimes you can have too much in your life.



What A Hoot .

What a Hoot is a fab, fun design with a great mix of colour ways. It makes me smile. I feel this is the essence of a children’s design, it should be fun and make you smile.

70513_frame Brighton

Brighton Beach by Harlequin

Also a big favourite of mine, it is immensely vibrant and boundary pushing as far as children’s design in concerned. To be honest this is yet another that I would quite happily use in other rooms, not only a child’s bedroom. I would definitely use it in a Kitchen.

Designers Guild, have always been renown for there bright colours and unusual colour blends so creating children’s designs was never going to be too much of an issue for them.

14639 Designers Guild



This quirky design filled with animals and maps has turquoise as a main colour.  Its pallet is reminiscent of one you often find in French designs, requiring the designer to at times think outside the box when putting it together.

This is true also of  Casadeco a French company. They are very subtle and sophisticated even when it comes to children’s designs.

ambi-list_1442331858 casadeco alice & paul

Alice & Paul.



I love Casadeco, especially for babies bedrooms. I personally find there muted choice of colour  is generally more suited to a nursery than a toddlers room. With its calming hues and softness of cloth makes it a definite go to for the little bundles first room.

Prestigious Textiles are at the lower end price point but they have some lovely designs that you can play with.

Forest Friends 3

Forest Friends


Play Time . Prestigious Textiles



Be Happy

Prestigious Textiles have over the years put some lovely designs out with a sharp price point. Their quality has also gone from strength to strength. Lovely cheerful fabrics. Owls and Pandas are in this year and Prestigious have joined in with these carefree collections.

Harlequin, Designers Guild, Casadeco, Scion, Osborne & Little and Prestigious are just a few of the companies out their making the most of this rarely tapped market. There are others but these are the ones who have mastered this niche particularly well and have caught my eye this year.

I will leave you with another quote from the eternal child Roald Dahl, he can say it so much better than I…………………………………..


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The Harlequin Effect Part 3 (The Future)

The Harlequin Effect Part 3

Interview continued with Luke Birchall . Harlequin’s U.K Sales Manager

Hi Elsie here,

                      Welcome to the final instalment to the Harlequin interview where we will be diving into the future of the company.

                      We are going to look at their environmental goals and achievements, equality in the company and new designs out this month.

Hope you enjoy.

Thank you




E.Wolfe:-                     How does Harlequin intend to carry the “lifestyle” forward?

Luke Birchall: –             Over the last 25 years but especially during the last decade or so we feel we have developed a strong business leading the way in terms of design and lifestyle products. We are always striving to keep abreast of current trends and will always invest in the latest production techniques at our factories to make sure we maintain the ‘edge’. Equally important is establishing and maintaining strong working relationships with our trade customers and the licensing partners previously mentioned. It is only with the right mix of all these elements and more that we will be able to maintain the position we are currently in.


                       Belvedere wallpaper, Dimoiselle wallpaper and fabric and Palmetto Silk                         All from the NEW Palmetto Collection

E.Wolfe:-                     You have a number of strong women in the company such as Claire Vallis (design director), Louise Draper (senior textile designer) & Caroline Geary (company secretary). In what way do you think having women in equal positions as men in the top of Harlequin will help the company in the future?

Luke Birchall:-               One of our major strengths is that we have strong people in place across the business, irrespective of sex. The likes of Claire Vallis, Alison Gore, Louise Draper and Louise Stovell (to name only a small selection!) have been with the company for significant lengths of time and in many ways embody all that is Harlequin. Without these people at the forefront of the business I honestly feel the company would be a poor reflection of itself and would arguably not have achieved all that it has in recent times. However, the success we have achieved is a real team effort and the blokes definitely deserve a mention as well!!



Cranes In Flight. Palmetto Wallpaper

E.Wolfe:-                     Carbon footprint and sustainable energy is important for our future not only in business but in the world. Harlequin has made moves in making their company cleaner such as sourcing its raw materials from organisations that trade ethically, are bound by environmental controls and, in turn, have their own environmental management systems.

The paper base for the wallpapers is supplied by organisations that source pulp from certified, sustainable forests and are accredited to FSC and/or PEFC forestry certification systems.  What plans does Harlequin have to be a “greener company” in the future?

Luke Birchall: –               We will always endeavour reach the standards set by law in relation to environmental controls; in fact it is our policy to exceed any targets set out. As we operate two large scale factory operations, we are constantly trying to achieve smarter and more efficient ways of working. Our Lancaster print house, Standfast & Barracks, uses water from the River Lune for multiple production techniques. We work closely with agencies such as United Utilities to ensure any water returned to the river is absolutely clean and will do no damage to the local environment. I’m sure you can appreciate the large quantity of base paper required for the large scale production of wallpapers at Anstey. We ensure that all paper supplied to us is FSC or PEFC accredited and we go to great lengths to ensure that any forestry stock is replanted to safeguard future production.


Dardenella Fabric, Dimoiselle and Lois fabrics. Palmetto collection.


 Palmetto Silks


E.Wolfe:-                     Harlequin always seem to have something up their sleeves in the way of beautiful cutting edge designs. What direction do you think Harlequin’s designs will go in the future?

Luke Birchall: –              The beauty of the Harlequin Group brands is that they can evolve in any way depending on the way design trends themselves evolve. We have three hugely strong brands in Harlequin, Scion and Anthology which cover the whole market from entry level with Scion, to higher end textural wallcoverings with Anthology. We also cannot rule out the introduction of other brands in future or the acquisition of another existing supplier. Whatever the future has in store we are in a good place to be able to react and develop accordingly.


Amborella wallpaper from the Palmetto Collection


Amborella Paterened Silk in the Palmetto Collection

E.Wolfe:-                     Harlequin have always created strong children’s designs, an area that many other companies have either shied away from or been very week in. How do you see this part of the harlequin brand existing in the future?

Luke Birchall: –             Our children’s collections are something we are very proud of at Harlequin and we will always continue to produce these. In many ways, like our coordinating fabrics and wallpapers, we are known for kid’s ranges and we would be very foolish to move away from this kind of collection now. In fact we will in late September be launching our first Scion children’s collection, ‘Guess Who?’ which draws on the success of our Mr Fox and Spike designs and includes more character based designs, such as Felicity Flamingo, Terry Toucan and a gang of Chameleons! It’s a really great collection and will be available to view in full at Scion stockists at the end of September.

Guess Who. Scion

Guess Who. Scion

The collection featured throughout this post is Palmetto, a sophisticated collection of atmospheric designs in evocative shades.

This collection is drawing not only from the wonderfully evocative 1920’s luxe feel but also from the glamour of the Jazz age and the botanical fervour that erupted in the 19th century with the enthusiastic orchid hunters. 

Yet again Harlequin have been forward thinking and inspired in this collection expertly designed by Harlequin Studio’s Becky Brown.

In Becky Brown’s own words regarding the inspiration for this collection she says……………

“Over the last 18 months I have been watching trends evolving both in fashion and in interiors, collating mood boards and experimenting with different techniques, such as mono prints, negative prints, foiling and etching. It seems to me as though the bright spring flowers of previous years have given way to an altogether more mysterious mood. The feel for 2015 is dreamlike and enchanted,
expressed through wild foliage, graphic botanicals and delicate flora and fauna.”

As previously mentioned in this interview, Harlequin and Becky Brown have expertly translated designs from the fashion world, added their own Harlequin magic and yet again created a wonderful, exotic and glamorous masterpiece. The Palmetto collection.

This collection has everything, wallpapers, metallics, weaves, silks and a coordinating velvet selection called  Belvedere velvets. Palmetto is an alluring collection with a high hitting sophistication of pattern, texture and intensity of colour that has you literally watering at the mouth.

The Harlequin Group is a rich and diverse brand that is a heavy weight in the creation of top end wallpapers and fabrics. You just have to look at their two most latest collections coming out at the end of September 2015 to see this. Palmetto Collection with Harlequin and Guess Who? with Scion.

Guess Who. Scio

Guess Who. Scion

 Next post coming out Monday will feature more images from Scion’s “Guess Who?” collection not to mention many others. Come Back MONDAY and take a look?

For more information on designs, collections, stockists & samples go to


The Harlequin Effect Part 2

The Harlequin Effect Part 2

Interview continued with Luke Birchall . Harlequin’s U.K Sales Manager

Hi Elsie here.

Since I began my career in 1995 The magic of Harlequin has never failed to inspire me. They get it right every time because they not only source the best designers but they are also creators of quality, they know what the people need and want from a good up to date design that will also last the test of time.

They do not just tap into the on trend look but put their own personal spin on it.

I have tried to find the secret Harlequin ingredient but it is alluding me, they just get it right every time.

I have been lucky enough to know several fantastic representatives of Harlequin‘s the people who are at the front line of the Harlequin brand . Luke has kindly agreed to chat with me and navigate through Harlequin’s past, present and what may be in their future!

I hope you enjoy part 2 of the Harlequin interview.

Hope you enjoy it and thank you for reading.



E.Wolfe:-            In the present times of Harlequin your customer service is second to none, how has this helped to mould the company and carry you forward?

Luke Birchall:-    Our customer service is something we are so very proud of at not just Harlequin, but all Walker Greenbank brands. In a market that is so competitive and with so much great product out there from various suppliers, we need to offer not just outstanding product but also an outstanding service to our trade customers. I honestly feel that this is a quality that we are known for in the industry and something that keeps our customers coming back to us time and time again.

E.Wolfe:-      Production has always been in England, a fact Harlequin are proud of especially in these economically challenging times; how has this aided the group when so many other companies are seeking cheaper production further afield?

Luke Birchall:- We are extremely proud to have as part of our Group both the Anstey Wallpaper Company based in Loughborough and the Standfast and Barracks fabric printing company based in Lancaster. All the brands wallpapers and printed fabrics are manufactured in these factories and will continue to do so. Both factories are positioned at the higher end of their respective markets and also offer a manufacturing service to many other UK design houses. If you are passionate about interiors, it is easy to see the quality of the products that come from our factories. Just as with the development of our brands over the recent years, we have also invested heavily in our factories and now have the capacity to digitally print fabrics in Lancaster, which I truly believe is the future of printing in the UK. In the same way at Anstey we now have the facility to produce beaded wallpapers which have in a short time, become amongst our best-selling qualities. With this constant cycle of reinvestment into the brands, people and the supporting factories I can see a very healthy future for the Harlequin Group brands.


Harlequin Momentum Beaded wallpaper


Momentum Wallpaper Close up

E.Wolfe:-            Harlequin are beginning to use designers at the top of their game such as Clarissa Hulse & Orla Kiely how is this affecting the group brand in the current market and how is it being received by designers and buyers alike?

Luke Birchall:-    We were always unsure about introducing recognisable and known designers into the Harlequin brand as we had always done so well without them! However, the world of interiors is becoming ever more discerning and if we can attract a new customer to the brand by working in conjunction with an established designer this can only be a good thing for both parties and will attract new followers to our collaborator as well. We decide to work with established designers who very much have their own style which will dovetail with the Harlequin brand. For example the recent collection with Clarissa Hulse and our wallpaper collaboration with Orla Kiely have both been hugely successful partly because they are instantly recognisable styles in their own right.


Clarissa Hulse and The Kallianthi collection with Harlequin


Orla Kiely In collaboration with Harlequin

E.Wolfe:-             Harlequin like most companies has wallpaper books that have coordinating fabric. In recent times Harlequin made a move to create pure wallpaper books focused on one wall papering, providing a go to focal point for customers. What do you feel is the most innovative decision that has been made in recent years by Harlequin?

Luke Birchall:-    We have always produced coordinating fabrics and wallpapers and these were always presented in the same pattern book. We found through trialling different methods of presentation that sales were encouraged when the books were presented separately and individual focus was given to either the fabrics or the wallpapers. This has enabled us to develop stand alone wallpaper and fabric ranges that have no direct coordinate but will work with other elements of the Harlequin portfolio. Most of our business still comes from the coordinated ranges but it is beneficial and more flexible to be able to produce a stand alone range.


Boutique Wallpaper collection. Harlequin


Artisan Embroideries by Harlequin

I feel that our most innovative decision in recent years was the creation and launch of our Scion brand. As most other companies were slowly trying to increase their price points, we decided that there was a huge opportunity for a design-led, funky and price conscious brand to complement the growing Harlequin brand. And so Scion was born only three years ago! We had to ensure that the brand was different enough from Harlequin to be able to stand on its own and to have its own identity so we opted for a fun, Scandinavian approach to designs. This year we have launched Scion‘s fourth main collection, Levande, which I’m glad to say has been well received and is selling through exceptionally well.


“Lotta” Fabric by Scion, Harlequin


Scion Levande

E.Wolfe:-             Harlequin have made steps to become a lifestyle brand, creating lamp shades, bedding and other decorative items to coordinate with their beautiful wallpapers and fabrics. How is this working out for the company in today’s market?

Luke Birchall: –   Our decision to produce more lifestyle products was taken around 6/7 years ago and has been a major driver in how and why the brands are more widely recognised. We now have licensing agreements with Brink & Campman (Rugs), Bedeck (Bedding & Towels), Christie (Towels), Make International (Housewares) and Stoneglow (Home Fragrances) amongst others and this is an area of the business we are very keen to expand upon. We select suitable manufacturing partners who are specialists in their fields operating in a similar place of the market to Harlequin or Scion. This is attracting a new customer to our brands who may not have been familiar with the Harlequin or Scion names. The Scion brand for example is only just over three years and already has a whole host of lifestyle products available. We are finding that people know, for example, the famous Mr Fox design, not from the ‘core’ products of fabrics and wallpapers, but from the beautiful rugs produced for us by Brink & Campman or the Mr Fox mugs or eggcups made by Make International. This is then in time generating sales of our fabrics and wallpapers. The whole licensing part of the business is hugely exciting and I can see a significant amount of growth being generated through these activities.


Kallianthi Lamp shades by Harlequin


Scion living Mr Fox collection


Harlequin Bedding and Rugs

Come back Next week for part 3 the final instalment to The Harlequin Effect Interview?

Design Awards 2015 “The Wizard Of OZ”

Design Awards 2015

“The Wizard Of OZ Effect”

Hi Elsie here,

                        I just want to begin by congratulating all the Designers who have reached this stage in the competition. You are the cream of the industry and deserve your place. You create wonderful designs for clients all over the world.

In the current economic climate and with the amount of designers out there it is hard to stay on top of the industry and be front runners in your trade.

I personally congratulate you all on your achievements’ and making it this far in the competition.

This article is not just about the design awards. It focusses on one particular aspect. COLOUR, or lack of it. We are going to look at those who have chosen to use colour in their designs and therefore go out on a limb and be in the minority.

Good luck to all the finalists.

I Hope you enjoy the blog.



I have no problem with the trend of the last few years of sophisticated designs of greys, silver, taupe, white and occasionally black. In fact I quite like it.

I do feel however that saturation point has been reached.

Everyone is doing it, to the point that companies have been set up that do this look alone and no other!

When I looked through the shortlist in the design awards I was shocked at the lack of colour, so much so I began to actively seek out and home in on the ones with colour.

When I found them I felt like Dorothy Gayle in the original Wizard of OZ !



Here are my favourite colour finalists of the  .

In no particular order……………


Design Intervention does not have a specific house style. This means that along with their rich mix of interior designers, architects, stylists, interior architects and project managers, they have the ability to create a colourful and divergent portfolio that facilitates the ability to be diverse with their clients. This allows for far much more flair, vibrancy and punch to their product.

arcres10-2b Design Intervention


res2-5d design intervention


res5-2c Design Intervention



Interior designer Mervyn Toh is the creator of Hottoh Design. They are a creative team that has forged a brand, unique in style, identity and direction.

Their tag line “HOTTOH is a place where clients become friends…” is central to their creation of individual and highly personal designs. They are able to produce design solutions tailored to their client by placing their needs and desires ahead of their own as designers. This creates a distinct balance of designer, client and creation.

asialiv-1a Hottoh design Pte Ltd

Asian Cosmopolitan Penthouse Living Space

asialiv-1e hottoh

asialiv-1c hottoh


KNS Architects based in Mumbai was formed  by Ar. Kanhai Gandhi, Ar. Neemesh Shah and Ar. Shresht Kashyap and since its inception the Company has successfully designed and executed several projects across India. They offer Architecture, Interior Design and Retail. They have cleverly managed to carve out a niche for themselves in the high end design market known as box designs and solutions. Their portfolio is as vast as it is diverse. They create innovative designs, and their ability to adapt to various styles and needs of their client has placed them at the cutting edge of the industry. The young and dynamic team are able to translate the client’s needs and desires to create breath-taking designs.

asiares1-8a KNS Architects




Viterbo Interior Design founded by Graça Viterbo  in 1979, then known as Atelier Graça Viterbo. In 2008, passes the legacy on to her daughter Gracinha. It is an international interior design brand on a mission to……

“Design Extraordinary Spaces for Extraordinary Clients.”

They are a full service interior design firm with a carefully-curated team of Designers and Artisans. Their creations have a dialogue; it speaks to you like a story, oozing style, individuality and balance of tone, texture and colour. They aim to meld their client’s personality with their designs to create a harmony that is unique and highly personalised. They not only are able to create hard edge cutting contemporary design but also have sensitivity for the classics and are able to magically blend the two.

asiares1-9a Viterbo Interior Design

Family Chic

asiares1-10a Viterbo interior Design

Geometric Harmony

Rosa May Sampaio

The highly publicised Rosa May Sampaio has been operating in the interior design world for over 20yrs. Her high education, family back ground and experience has evolved over the years to create a rich and versatile portfolio that illustrates her sensitivity to a client’s desires and deep understanding of the way architecture, soft furnishings and furniture come together to create a symbiotic and refined end product. Her use of colour in her designs is ingenious and shows a skill to collate colours that look so naturally amalgamated and not contrived.

city-2c Rosa May

 São Conrado Penthouse


“Private Residence, São Paulo”

livnorth-4c Rosa May Sampio

  São Paulo Apartment


Cave Interiors is an interior design practice founded in London by Georgina Cave. Georgina and her team not only create contemporary designs at the top of the industry but also renovations of landmarks and listed buildings. Their ability to create the clients “dreams” is truly wonderful. Cave Interiors’ design portfolio demonstrates a wide and varying range of design styles. There is everything from ultra-modern to traditional; opulent to minimalist; and anything else you can think of. They tailor it all to the client’s needs, lifestyle and personality and by their own words “not the designer’s signature”.  They are able to produce highly imaginative designs that do not look staged. It is truly amazing how their designs do not look designed but look naturally evolved.

livuk-4a Cave Int

Gloucester Crescent

download (1)

 “Hotels should be living things not stuffy institutions”

This statement is obviously more than that. Looking at the Designs that Kit Kemp has created for her and Tim’s Firmdale Hotel’s that exist in London as well as in the states . The statement is more of an ethos. Because of her fresh innovative approach to design and colour the hotels are alive and buzzing with luxury, comfort and glamour. Kim’s unique personal way of decorating is a breath of fresh air. Like so many of the companies mentioned in this article Kim and Tim Kemp have many design accolades and Kim continues to push the design world of hotel interiors.

Firmdale 2

livuk-12a Firmdale

 Terrace, Ham Yard


Michael Ong and Jeremy Tay are the creators of Prestige Global Designs in Singapore. The central beliefs of this company are a spiritual and ethical essence combined with a drive and yearning to succeed. They don’t so much as slap you with colour but caress you gently with subtle hues and the odd splash of sensual focal colour. There is warmth to their designs that is seductively alluring. Michael and Jeremy aim to be at the top of their tree in Singapore and with the talent and determination they have anything is possible.

res1-9d Prestige global designs

The Orchard Residences


Hill House Interiors creators Jenny Weiss and Helen Bygraves, have built a sophisticated design company that produces opulent, seductive and exacting designs. Although a large portion of their portfolio is the neutral look I have described at the start of this piece, delve deeper and the designs where they have used colour draws you into the space intelligently. Even though the colour is used sparingly it is done in such a brilliant way that it takes your breath away.

“We like to think there is an unmistakable touch of glamour in everything we do”

This direct quote from their web site is an absolute truth. Glamour seeps out of the pours of everything these brilliant women create.

res1-12a Hill house interiors



Dorothee Junkin is the principal and visionary of DJDS. If you view the portfolio it’s obvious to see her desire to produce internal décor that is sympathetic with the architecture and even its external surroundings. This approach enables an almost fluid beauty between, design, colour, form, architecture and nature. Her use of colour seems to be drawn from nature giving it an earthy sophistication.

“Every project is as unique as the client for whom it is designed.”

Dorothee’s extensive training, expertise, experience and talent equip her with an eye for detail as well as deep understanding of her client’s needs that result in beautiful and at times surprising end product.

res5-3c Dorothee Junkin Design Studio


Vero Beach

You can vote be following the link

These are not the only designers to have used colour in this year’s design awards but they are my favourites. I notice the main thing they all seem to have in common is the fact that they design for the clients own taste  instead of having a specific look of their own that people come and ask for. This customer driven design seems to be the primary reason that these companies have such a diverse and at times colourful portfolio.

As a designer and artist I love colour and the sparsity of its use in recent times is for me a touch depressing.

I crave the colour and hunt it down then post it. I do like the fashionable creams, taupe, silver grey monochromes, but the colourful designs turn me on in a way these other designs leave me wanting.

I hope you have enjoyed the walk with me down The Yellow Brick Road of The Interior Design Awards 2015.

Good luck to all the professionals shortlisted.


THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

The Harlequin Effect

The Harlequin Effect

Interview with Luke Birchall UK Retail sales Manager for Harlequin

The Harlequin Group (a brief history)

Originally founded as a wallpaper company, Harlequin has embraced its heritage by producing breathtaking designer wallpapers in an all-encompassing selection of designs and textures.    A master of the flamboyant statement wallpaper, Harlequin also specialises in imaginative finishes, visionary techniques and mouth-watering colours guaranteed to make your walls a work of art in their own right!

The Harlequin Group has a rich past full of wonderful designs, designers and mergers.

Founded in 1899, the company originally known as C&W Walker Holdings Ltd was engineering company which manufactured gas containers.

In 1986, the merger with Greenbank Group PLC, another engineering firm, established the current entity Walker Greenbank PLC a public limited company listed on the London Stock Exchange.

In 1987 the Anstey Wallpapers  was acquired which thrust the company forward to become the group we know and love today, creating the marketing brands named Harlequin and Zoffany.

Palmetto Fabrics. Harlequin

Palmetto Fabrics. Harlequin

Constantina Damask Weaves. Zoffany

Constantina Damask Weaves. Zoffany

In the late 80’s the decision was made to concentrate on the wallpaper and home furnishings market, and the various engineering companies that had comprised the group were sold in 1990.

During the early 1990’s the group became one of Europe’s largest commercial wall-covering manufacturers and distributors and one of the UK’s leading domestic wallpaper and fabric companies , thanks in part to its intelligent and innovative acquisition of several companies.

In the late 90’s decisions surrounding the consolidation of the wallpaper companies and their manufacturing bases to one unit helped streamline the manufacturing side of the company. The purchase of Standfast Dyers and Printers and Barracks Fabric Printing Company was also achieved at the turn of the century thus creating a complete in-house of manufacturing.

In August 2003 the group acquired the trade and certain assets of Arthur Sanderson & Sons, which included the prestigious Morris & Co brand.

Papavera Prints & Embroideries Sanderson

Papavera Prints & Embroideries Sanderson

Archive III Morris & Co

Archive III Morris & Co

Many more changes within the group occurred and they have grown to be not only a leader in the financial world but also one of the most prestigious and trend driving company in the world of interior design and soft furnishings.

zoffany WG_logo Scion@2x Sanderson general use logo Morris & Co logo_blue-200 harlequin-logo Anstey

I have been very lucky indeed to know and work with Harlequin fabrics and wallpapers since 1995.

It has been and still is one of my most favourite products / brands. Their designs are an absolute joy to work with not only for artistic reasons but also for reasons of quality. It is such a pleasure when my clients have been overjoyed with them just as much as I, time and time again.

I first met Luke Birchall when he became a representative for Harlequin. He was an instant hit with me and all the other retailers.

His friendly and easy-going manner was a pleasure to work with, as well as his organised, enthusiastic professionalism showing his obvious love for the product and brand he represents. That coupled with the amazing designs and price point that Harlequin always has, created a winning combination that was just always impossible to resist.

So you can imagine how excited I was when Luke and The Harlequin Group agreed to this interview.

Thank you and I hope you enjoy reading it as I have writing it.


Luke Birchall. Harlequin’s UK retail Sales Manager.

Luke Birchall. Harlequin’s UK retail Sales Manager.

Harlequin Looking Back

E.Wolfe :-          I have delved into the past of the Harlequin company to its infancy in 1973 with Anstey as just a wallpaper company and the takeover with Walker Greenbank. How do you feel this has contributed to Harlequin’s growth in the past not only economically but also with its designs?

Luke Birchall: – The acquisition of the company by Walker Greenbank was certainly a turning point for the Harlequin brand but it was years later in the 1980’s that the company now known as Harlequin would bear any resemblance to the brand people know today. It was in the 80’s that we started designing and producing coordinated ranges for which we are so well known today and are the foundations on which the business has been built from. Over the past 10 years or so the company has experienced huge levels of growth both in the UK and internationally largely because of an expanded product portfolio and a greater breadth of designs which in turn appeals to a greater number of consumers. With the success we’ve achieved over the years we have been able to successfully create new stand-alone brands such as Scion and Anthology which have helped reach new customers and will hopefully continue our success into the future.

E.Wolfe:-             Have in house designers always been the way for Harlequin?

Luke Birchall: –   Unlike many of our competitors, we are proud to always have had our own design team, and this has been expanded upon and developed over the years. With the Harlequin Group now having three completely different brands in Harlequin, Scion & Anthology, it is essential to have a diverse spread of designers so that each brand maintains its own identity. Each brand has been developed specifically to have its own handwriting and whilst there is a huge amount of cross over between the designers we have also developed design specialists who live and breathe their brand. This has worked extremely well for us in the past and we envisage the same strategy for the immediate future.

Scion Levande collection

Scion Levande collection



E.Wolfe:-             Harlequin always seems to walk alongside the Fashion world with their designs has this always been the aim?

Luke Birchall:-   The Harlequin Group brands are increasingly driven by the fashion world, but the same can be said for any contemporary brand. The interiors world has always been inspired by the fashion industry in terms of trend colours and textures. In the past trend colours featured in fashion would come through the following season for interiors but now the two go hand in hand and what is hot in fashion is mirrored during the same season in interiors. As our brands have evolved and become more fashion oriented we must make sure that we have the right style of products for our increasingly fashion conscious customer base.

Amazilia Collection by Harlequin

Amazilia Collection by Harlequin

Jean -Paul Gaultier & Deta Von Teese on the catwalk in Paris

Jean -Paul Gaultier & Deta Von Teese on the catwalk in Paris

E.Wolfe:-             What was the most defining moment in Harlequin’s past as far as design direction was concerned?  

Luke Birchall:-   The most defining moment in terms of design was the appointment of our current Design Director, Claire Vallis. Claire’s background was at our sister company Anstey Wallpapers, and she joined the business with a clear vision of how she wanted the brand to evolve. Her different design direction, coupled with substantially increased investment in marketing, showrooms and exhibitions, has directly formed the brand you see today and will continue to do so in the future.

Claire Vallis. Design Director

Claire Vallis. Design Director Harlequin

Sample board from Anstey Wallpaper company.

Sample board from Anstey Wallpaper company.

E.Wolfe:-             What is your favourite past design and Harlequin’s best seller since its birth?

Luke Birchall: –  There’s so many to choose from! My personal favourite design is a true Harlequin modern classic, the digitally printed Paradise, and features in our spring 2015 Amazilia collection.

Paradise, Amazilia.

Paradise, Amazilia.


This is the 1st of a 3 part interview.

Come back next week and check out Harlequin in the Present??!!