JET Collection by Whiteworks arrives in The Guy Goodfellow Collection Showroom. Release: 4th April 2018
The Guy Goodfellow Collection Showroom in Langton Street, Chelsea, is the new home of the JET collection of fabrics and wallpapers by Whiteworks.
The JET collection of mid-century designs is a fresh addition to the world of interior textiles and design. Spring floral bouquets with loosely drawn outlines reminiscent of the Bloomsbury Group are juxtaposed with bold watercolour geometric prints exemplifying the design style of the inter-war period.
The lively prints and designs of JET stem from a surprising piece of family heritage unearthed by Whiteworks founder Susanna White. Whilst sorting through an old chest of drawers, Susanna stumbled across a portfolio of beautiful hand-painted designs created by her grandmother, known to the family as Jet, after the initials of her maiden name Joan Evelyn Thomson.
The discovery of the portfolio opened an inspiring window into the world of Susanna’s exotic grandmother and inspired the JET collection of wallpapers with the expert help and guidance of Hamilton Weston, specialists in historic wallpapers. Printed linens and velvets have now been added to the range and are available to view at the Guy Goodfellow Collection Showroom in Chelsea’s newest hub for interiors and antiques, Langton Street.
The process of creating the JET collection has, for Susanna, been a fascinating journey, she says
“I have recovered a great deal of my grandmother, I understand her more. She had a rollicking sense of humour – and I have discovered the young woman, full of joy and heartbreak”.
The JET fabric and wallpaper collection can be seen at the Guy Goodfellow Collection Showroom from the 4th April 2018 15 Langton Street SW10 OJL.
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The JET Story On discovering a portfolio of forgotten designs, granddaughter Susanna White, started to trace the story of Joan Evelyn Thomson (Jet)’s life through an album of family photographs. The images document her progress through an idyllic early childhood in the Berkshire countryside. With her art-trained mother and tea and Jute trader father, Jet lived in a cultured and well-connected environment up until the age of ten, when her father died. Following this, she travelled extensively, firstly with her mother in 1930 when she toured Europe, and then on her mother’s death when Jet was just sixteen she went to live with family in Yorkshire where her life became full of the country pleasures of horses, dogs, tennis and social events.
It was in 1933 at York Art School that Jet’s design ambitions were ignited, and the independent young woman then enrolled in art school in Paris, chaperoned in Paris Society by her ‘Tante Jehanne.” Paris was in the throws of economic depression, but the creative community was thriving in the era of Cubism, abstraction, modernism and an atmosphere of debate across social classes. Jet’s personal notebook, written in French, shows her interest in colour and pattern, and some of the fresh spring-like designs in the Jet collection date from this period.
After a brief period in New York, Jet moved to Vienna where she encountered the uncertain atmosphere of a city under threat from Nazi Germany. Moving to the relative safety of the Tyrol, she once again surrounded herself with beautiful countryside and a stimulating social life. Here she met and fell in love with her future husband, David Milne, who was from a textile family, once again the serendipity of life directed Jet toward design and textiles, but motherhood and the war postponed her ambitions. During the war, the Milnes billeted the artist Edward Wolfe, who had worked for the ground-breaking Omega Workshops, and the fluidity of the Bloomsbury Group’s art is reflected in many of Jet’s designs. She was inspired after the war, and the break-up of her marriage, to re-establish her independence and went to work and design for Zika Ascher who was producing beautiful silk squares designed by artists such as Matisse, Picasso and Cocteau. The flamboyance of this textile art must have had an influence on Jet’s personal work.
In 1949 Jet had once again fallen in love and married Tommy Fairley, chief press officer to the Festival of Britain. Work was forgotten, and the portfolio of designs was consigned to a drawer, where they remained until rediscovered four years ago. Jet was absorbed by her new marriage, in this the happiest period of her life, and after the tragic early death of Fairley in 1963 she maintained a colourful and busy life dominated by her interest in transcendental meditation and the Maharishi.