'Khulu Vases' (above) and 'Narina' (below) from Cole & Son's Ardmore wallpaper collection
Image: Supplied 'Khulu Vases' (above) and 'Narina' (below) from Cole & Son's Ardmore wallpaper collection

"We were planning on launching a wallpaper range when we were approached by Cole & Son creative director Shauna Dennison," says Jonathan Berning, co-founder of Ardmore Ceramics.

"She discovered our work in New York and, as one does, she fell in love with it. They sent their own designer who collaborated with my mom [Ardmore founder and head creative Fée Halsted] to get the essence of Ardmore," says Berning.

"They then went back and drew out the designs and we approved them. It was a very interesting and holistic collaborative experience."

The result is a selection of wallpapers that not only depict African motifs, but show various core elements of Ardmore's aesthetic - for example, parrot-topped Khulu vases with cheetahs and chameleons cheekily running up their sides.

Khulu, meaning "most important", is a very apt name for what Cole & Son calls a ''fabulous wallpaper".

The wallpaper's watercolour paintings pay tribute to the Khulu vessels, recognised as "modern day collectables" by auction houses Christie's, Bonhams and Sotheby's, and which are displayed in galleries and private collections around the world.

The wallpaper comes in four colourways: soft pinks and oranges on pale cream; a host of China blues on ivory; vivid greens and charcoal on ivory; and a dramatic petrol and emerald on midnight blue. A further 12 designs range from fun dancing elephants to strong patterned borders.

"Having coveted Ardmore Ceramics for several years and being strongly drawn to their whimsicality and narrative, it's now a privilege and a delight to be recreating these fabulous Ardmore stories onto wallpaper," says Dennison.

For Berning, a correlation between the Cole & Son wallpaper and the second release of the Ardmore-designed fabric collection is exciting. "The colourways and the designs link so well together," he says.

The latest Zambezi fabric collection is "more grown up", he says - they've added a selection of silks and velvets and a collection of finished cushions.

"We're looking to develop further products," says Berning. This is in addition to a partnership with Hermès, where a selection of scarves, shawls, bags, swimwear and watches all have the Ardmore touch.

"The collaborations get our name out there. But mostly they open us up to new learning processes and possibilities."

ardmoreceramics.co.za
cole-and-son.com


This article was originally published in The Times.

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