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Nothing scaredy cat about these designs…

Scaredy cats? Not these Timorous Beasties…

We got together with Paul Simmons from Timorous Beasties to explore the roots of their wonderful creations. WD How did you and Ali McAuley decide to work together? PS We met and studied together at Glasgow School of Art 1984-1988, then from 1988-1990 I studied at the RCA in London, and Ali did a post grad in Glasgow. I think we realised early on that if you want to do anything in your way, you have to do it yourself, and we wanted to produce our own fabrics. Also to be very pragmatic about it, physically it takes two people to print a fabric, one to push and one to pull the squeegee. 01_01.jpg WD You’ve been commissioned to do all sorts of projects over the years. What are you most proud of? PS Commissions often mean working within a project’s boundary. It is a great way to learn new challenges, and commissions often throw up unexpected rewards. The latest things are usually the ones we’re most proud of, collaborating with Kate Bush on Artwork for her tour, and designing the new chocolates boxes for Fortnum and Mason were pretty good. A Kate Bush gig whilst munching on handmade chocolates… doesn’t get much better! 01_06.jpg WD …and what’s your dream commission? A dream commission for us is maybe a contradiction in terms, since the reward is often that which we cannot foresee. If we had to choose; designing the interior for an old country pile in a contemporary way we think would be fun… ish? WD Who are your biggest influences? PS Maria Siyblla Merian, Ernst Haeckel, Paul Klee, Paul McCarthy, and Dave Shrigley. WD …and which eras? PS 18th Century and 21st WD Why mix wildlife with modern society in your work? PS To quote Run DMC… ‘that’s just the way it is’. WD Technology has changed everything since you shared your first squeegees, do you embrace it? PS Yes, absolutely essential. Technology can dictate a whole collection, or the way you design something. You have to design with the end product and the process in mind. WD You’re famous for your Glasgow and London Toiles. What was the thought process behind these pieces? PS The Toiles we have produced are a parody of the original French Toile de Jouey fabrics produced in a pre-revolutionary and post-industrial France in the small town of Jouey just outside of Paris in the 1770’s. The concept can be applied to any city, event, or country in the world. Our starting point was the city that we know best; Glasgow, but we have easily made the transition onto other cities that we know or like, hence the New York Toile, Edinburgh Toile, London Toile… 01_04.jpg The original Toiles were actually rather macabre, and often depicted moral tales, or actual historical events finely printed onto linen curtains in a time when most people were illiterate. However, the Toiles that have remained in our psyche are the saccharine and twee toiles of the Victorian era, which often depicted bucolic scenes of shepherdesses leading sheep up garden paths, or lovers pushing each other on swings entwined with flowers, whereas the original’s depicted murders, battles and even rape. Our Toiles simply depicted contemporary life in the cities we live in today. They are designed to look like the originals and give the viewer a double take. Even though people might not know what a Toile is, there is still a definite visual joke that most people can relate to and appreciate. Sometimes it has backfired when a customer didn’t see the double take till it was too late! Ooops! 01_02.jpg WD What would you most like to change about modern interior design? PS TV programmes about the subject…..as in ‘BAN THEM!’ WD What plans do you have for the future? PS To leave a good trail behind in the past… ……………………………………………………… A suitably enigmatic end. Many thanks, Paul, I’m more curious then ever now… If, like me, you’d like a closer look at that wonderful London Toile, or a trip round all the wonders of the Timorous Beasties, why not order a free sample on wallpaperdirect?

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