It is hard to believe that it was only this year that a staple British 1960s pattern, Peter Hall’s Verdure, was reprinted for the first time in decades by homeware retailer Winter’s Moon. With the design held as part of the textile archive at the V&A, this is great news for anyone who loves a mid-century design classic! We catch up with shop founder Julia Grant to bring you her story of personal determination and a very lucky break.
Photographs courtesy of Winter’s Moon
Peter Hall’s Verdure: A 1960s best-seller
If you were to take a guess at one of the biggest-selling patterns for London design store Heal’s in the 1960s, chances are it would be something from the likes of Lucienne Day or Jacqueline Groag. It’s less likely that the name Peter Hall would instead roll off the tongue. However, Verdure, which Peter Hall created in 1965, totted up over 10,000 metres (or more appropriately 11,000 yards) of fabric over the course of its production. It was available in five different colourways, and was used in clothing and accessories, as well as for curtains and upholstery in schools and hospitals.
Peter Hall’s Verdure: 1960s colours
Even the founder of vintage fabric retailer Winter’s Moon, Julia Grant, was unaware of Peter Hall’s work until about five years ago, when she discovered some vintage red Verdure curtains for sale, which she bought and used to upholster a chair. Since then, Julia kept a look out for that simple flower pattern whenever she was scouring markets for fabric and eventually found some more in yellow. She tells me, “I was also given a long length in a blue and green colourway by a lovely elderly pair of sisters, who are local to my studio and, hearing about my interest in vintage fabrics, brought in a bundle of unused lengths they didn’t want.”
Photograph courtesy of classic-modern.co.uk
Peter Hall’s Verdure: re-producing the design
The pattern really got under her skin and Julia explains how, on a whim, she decided to track down the great designer himself. “I was sitting in the studio on a cold morning last January, looking through stacks of vintage fabric, and I started thinking about what colourways I would like to see Verdure in if it was printed today. It got me thinking about where in the world Peter Hall would now be living [New Zealand, as it turned out!] and if he was still designing. I wanted to convey to him how much I loved the Verdure design and that I wanted to see it given another outing. Once I get an idea into my head, I don’t let it go, so I knew as soon as I found his website that I had to make contact with him”. Julia admits that she didn’t really think anything would come of her initial email, so it came as a surprise when Peter Hall not only responded, but on hearing more about her plans to introduce new colourways for the design, was happy to give his approval and lend an expert eye in choosing the shades! Julia says, “I’m so grateful to Peter for saying yes to the project, considering my company is so small – it must have been a leap of faith or him.”
Peter Hall’s Verdure: new colourways
Re-inventing this classic 1960s pattern must have been a daunting task. I ask Julia what she considered when choosing the new colours for Verdure? “The original colourways were very of their era; I particularly loved the ones that used three shades of one colour, whether it be red, blue or yellow, because it made the pattern look simple. It’s actually very challenging choosing three shades of one colour that will work together, then gauging the appropriate amount of contrast”.
The new colours are light and bright, while still appearing fairly muted in comparison to the original, rather typical 1960s, choices. Julia selected combinations of blue and mustard, pale red and grey, and grey on grey, collaborating with Peter Hall to fine tune the tones and colour layouts. She explains, “Strong dark backgrounds are key to the original colourways, but this isn’t always easy to achieve with modern digital printing. Ultimately I think we’ve succeeded in creating fabrics which retain the fun and brightness of the original design, but use colours that are not too off-the-wall and sit easily in contemporary interiors.”
Peter Hall’s Verdure: a contemporary pattern on a quality fabric
Considering it is a very 1960s design, I’m keen to understand what it is about the pattern that still works so well now – it could have been designed yesterday, it looks so contemporary. Julia explains, “The motif is very simple and the layout appears equally simple at first glance, but actually it has little quirks that serve to add interest. I think the scale of it is very easy to use; it works just as well on a small lampshade as on a large chair, it’s so adaptable.”
When it came to production, there is one adjustment Julia was intent on making. She was determined to print the design onto a good quality heavy-weight fabric; many vintage fabrics were predominantly intended for curtains and so aren’t durable enough for upholstery. She found a fabric printer in the north of England whose work fitted the bill and she is delighted with the results. The fabric is now used for cushions, lampshades and for upholstered seating.
Peter Hall’s Verdure: a successful revival
Through re-discovering this 1960s pattern Julia has managed to revive the design for a new generation and by adapting the colours to contemporary taste she has brought renewed longevity to the pattern, which should appeal to those who love contemporary design as well as devoted vintage fabric fans.
View the full Verdure product range at Winter’s Moon
Check out the original fabric in the V&A archive
The work of Peter Hall features in The Victoria and Albert Museum’s Textiles Collection: British Textile Design from 1940 to the Present
Peter Hall is currently writing an autobiography that focuses on his work, due out in 2015. For updates, see the designer’s website
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