Arley House - the groundbreaking interior design company from Cheshire
PUBLISHED: 00:00 06 August 2018
What do you get when you combine great design with innovative thinking? Arley House in Ashley, that's what
Neela and Adrian Tratalos married in 2014, the same year that Adrian sold his business and started looking for a new venture.
‘Neela worked as a fabric agent,’ Adrian says. ‘She represented Belgian fabric mills and Italian tanneries, selling their product to major furniture manufacturers across the UK. She recognised a need for high quality digitally printed fabrics for smaller upholstery and design projects.
‘At the same time, we were introduced to Barry Ward, a brilliant colourist, who had a considerable career in textile design.’
And so Arley House was born.
In the rear of their showroom in Ashley, near Hale, there are some surprisingly small digital printers, one which prints a design onto special paper, which is then transferred onto fabric – such as a rather delicious velvet – and another that prints directly onto cotton or linen. It’s all very clever and means that runs of hundreds of metres can be printed on demand, or just a single metres alone. This isn’t where the real magic happens however, that happens upstairs, in the room occupied by the modest and softly spoken Barry.
Barry is a quite marvellous artist; the fact that he has chosen to make his career creating designs for upholstery fabrics means his work is found in homes right across the globe, the homeowners just don’t know it. He creates pictures that not only have to dazzle and delight, but also allow a ‘match’ so that when printed on fabric, it can be taken to varying widths and lengths.
‘I might ask Barry to create something that taps into a specific trend,’ says Neela, ‘or something quite abstract, or he will create something himself, such as a boating scene he came up with on a whim and has been snatched up by an interior designer working on a restaurant with a nautical theme. When his design is complete, it is scanned and passed to our colour separatist Meg Knowles, who isolates each colour in it to provide a breakdown. Barry can then select one or more colours in the design and change them, so creating a whole collection based on a single pattern, using a range of colour schemes. It also means that if a client sees a design they love, but needs a colour in there to tie into another element in their room scheme, we can tweak it and print exactly what they want.’
When Adrian and Neela launched Arley House, they knew they had quite a task ahead of them – creating a whole new brand of national significance is not easy.
‘We started our business by approaching some of the bigger furniture manufacturers,’ says Adrian, ‘where of course Neela had already built relationships, which worked very well. This however doesn’t build our own name, as we’re creating fabrics for other brands’ furniture, so I approached the V&A Museum – there is no more iconic name in design. We met with them regularly over a year, while they got to know us. They quickly appreciated that we could produce quality textiles, but of course their concern was what we would do with their designs. Then they met Barry.’
Barry’s talent is such that the V&A team felt completely comfortable entrusting precious and unique designs with him. Many of the pieces are extremely old and suffered considerably over the years before being saved and archived by the V & A.
‘Neela and Barry were given the incredible opportunity to delve into the archives at the V&A and select designs to re-imagine for use in furnishing textiles,’ says Adrian, with considerable pride. ‘On some pieces, little bits were missing and he was able to recreate what was previously there. He had to make tweaks to create a repeat pattern and on some he made changes to make them work in today’s contemporary settings. The people at the V&A, when they saw what he’d done, simply said yes, yes, yes…to each and every one.’
Arley House have released four collections as part of their collaboration with the V&A, including a stunning volume of work by shining lights of the Arts & Craft movement, Lewis F. Day and Frederick Vigers: Pagoda, Heraldic Birds, Rolling Leaves and Lacewing are based on original designs held in the V&A archive, and now can be brought to your home too, a century after they were first created and no less beautiful.
‘The joy for them, and for us, is that without what we’re doing these designs would never see the light of day,’ Adrian says. ‘Art lost to the world, in effect.’
Arley House fabrics, in just four years, have achieved global reach, with designers from Moscow to New York calling on the skills of Barry and Neema to design and deliver precisely what they need. Louisa, Adrian’s daughter, is their marketing manager and is currently rather excited about a new nightclub in New York.
‘I met the designer and he was complaining that he couldn’t get exactly what he wanted, so I told him what we could do. The club has gold ceilings and deep blue furnishings, so we created a gold design on an ombre effect blue background. He has put huge panels of it throughout the space and I can’t wait to see it!’
Neela is equally passionate about their ability to offer a totally bespoke, immediate service.
‘Because we make to order, we’re never out of stock. We can even turn jobs around overnight, from design to print and then delivery. People can come here and find the perfect print, or can take one of our existing designs and have the colours tweaked. They can order a huge amount of fabric, or a single meter. Interior designers can create a totally bespoke scheme and we will never use that design again. We give people exactly what they want, when they want it.’
There you go: design brilliance and innovative thinking in one beautiful package. u
The Old Smithy, Mobberley Road, Ashley.
0161 929 2750 www.arleyhouse.com