Review: moody blooms by Tricia Guild and photography by James Merrell

Tricia Guild’s new book, moody blooms: designing with nature, is part gardening book, part art catalogue and part interior design manual. The pages explode with colour and present an exploration of the varying forms and energies of different plants as an integral element of a beautifully designed interior. Guild’s designs are influenced by the cyclical life of a twig, leaf or flower from tentative bud to full-blown deliciousness, as well as their melancholic demise. Her work is a blend, a meeting of graphic design and painting, travel influences and structural objects, light and shade.

Plants have been imbued with meaning, as well as medicinal qualities, for thousands of years. They have a language of their own symbolised by their fragrance, form and colour, such as rosemary for remembrance or roses for love.

Tricia Guild is a designer extraordinaire with a reputation dating back to the 1970s when her first store opened on the Kings Road with a debut collection of fabrics, ceramics and furniture. In 1974 Guild began working with artists such as the inimitable Kaffe Fassett. The brand has grown to become a successful global business that has remained true to Guild’s original vision.

Guild is also a dedicated gardener and traveller. Nature’s influence is ever present in her work, the designs, colours and textures as well as the sheer exuberance of all growing things. Guild believes that, where interiors are concerned, the “flowers and blooms, buds and leaves that we select should be as much of a reflection of our personalities and feelings as our decorations”.

“If Tricia Guild were a flower which species would she be?” @hashtagtravelin

Tricia Guild has been writing books on interiors and design for 50 years. Here, as in previous works, the photography is of exceptional quality and rightly so. Each ‘set’ is highly stylised and acts as mood board to stimulate the mind and the senses. Often a photograph is a double exposure of a flower overlaid on a room setting. At other times a gorgeous bloom, or a fascinating leaf shape, is juxtaposed to colourful room layouts, layered with complexity, that vibrate with the plant’s energy or ‘soul’. Each layout is enhanced with a succinct commentary, an insight into how and why Guild feels the designs, colours and accessories work so well together. She also offers tips on how to set the stage, arranging stems and blooms to create interesting and unique pieces that chime with their unique setting.

Just as the perfect outfit nevers feels complete without a spritz of scent or jewellery – a room without flowers, leaves or plants is only nearly complete. Only nearly perfect.

Tricia Guild
Tricia Guild, OBE. British designer, founder and creative director, Designers Guild. Each piece shown in the book is part of the Designers Guild collections including wallpaper, fabric and furniture.

Scattered throughout too, are relevant quotes about nature and flowers by personages from Audrey Hepburn to Henri Matisse to William Blake. My Instagram feed is flooded with inspirational quotes and here it also feels a little contrived. Just saying.

If you enjoy gardens, whether your own or visiting one of the many magnificent heritage gardens in the UK, or simply exploring nature year-round in the countryside, Guild’s exploration of the seasonal spirit of plants will resonate. At any season, in nature there is always something happening, even in the British winter when everything appears dormant there is structure and often colours from aconites, snowdrops and holly berries, and the red branches of dogwood. Guild designs are also inbued with elements of nature’s seasons and the varying stages of a plant’s growth.

Moody blooms. Photos courtesy Designers Guild.

Many of the flowers and plants in the moody blooms are from Guild’s own garden and she confesses a particular love for dahlias. The book’s photography by James Merrell, is evocative, ethereal, and painterly-like. The images have too the feel of botanical drawings and watercolours, revealing the tiny ridges of a silken petal, the veins of a textured leaf, and the tiny tips of lilly of the valley bell-shaped flowers dipped in colour.

The only thing lacking in moody blooms is the scent of the fragrant pelargonium leaves. and intoxicating roses. And, of course, the tactile element of velvety rose petals, or softly unfurling poppies.

If Tricie Guild hadn’t been a designer she would surely have been an artist. Photo courtesy Designers Guild.

Moody blooms is a heavy tome but one that you will want to pick up time and again, to ruffle through the pages to seek inspiration for your own decorations and displays, or simply to bask in the exquisite artistry on a rainy afternoon. There are 239 pages of stylised compositions, as well as a catalogue of Guild’s particular favourite species at the back of the book so you can plan your next season’s borders.

“Each bloom embodies a different spirit that conjures up its own unique magic”. Tricia Guild.

moody blooms: designing with nature by Tricia Guild with Amanda Back. Photography by James Merrell. Design by Louise Brody.

Retail £35.00 from good bookshops or online.

You don’t have to be a gardener to enjoy moody blooms or an aspiring interior designer (though the book will appeal to both these activities). The attraction is wide. If you love art, nature, colours, design, horticultural photography or architecture, this book will capture your heart.

Next week I review Out Of The Blue, a new exibition at The Arc, Winchester celebrating Tricia Guild’s unique and creative approach, her inspiration, intuitive design methodology and techniques. Follow for updates to your inbox or link up on @hashtagtravelin on Instagram or Twitter.

If you enjoyed reading about Tricia Guild’s new book you will be delighted by the work of Nick Knight, fashion photographer and image creator. A few years ago, Knight began gathering roses from his own garden, and artfully arranging the blooms into stunning displays at his kitchen table before capturing them digitally on his iPhone to post on Instagram @Nick_Knight. Read Up Close and Personal. Nick Knight, Roses From My Garden.

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