Toile de Jouy continues to inspire us despite its introduction century over two hundred years ago. The print typically depicts a pastoral scene with figures, flowers, fruits and birds making up a vignette usually in red or blue which is in turn repeated onto a cotton base. It originates from Jouy en Josas in north central France, a neighbouring town of Versailles which was home to many aristocratic families during the late 18th, many of whom personally served the French kings Louis XIV and Louis XV respectively.
The print was the creation of German born Chritsophe-Phillipe Oberkampf who opened his first factory in Jouy en Josas in 1759 and in turn produced the first Toile de Jouy. It has since become a design classic, adorning every surface from tea cups to T-shirts.
Toile du Jouy gained huge popularity over the years and has more recently experienced a resurgence with designers in both fashion and interiors drawing inspiration from the print.
The American interior designer Sheila Bridges has updated the Toile de Jouy by replacing the quaint rural scenes with those of everyday New York life. Characters dancing, playing basketball and carrying boomboxes make up this vibrant print which come in modern shades of yellow, robin’s egg, pistachio and cherry.
Paris based designer Manuel Canovas has produced a series of traditional printed wallpapers in acid tones and bright colours such as this bubblegum pink print below.
Timorous Beasties is the Scottish textiles and wallpaper label who have taken the concept of old fashioned toile and given it a twist. They have created an urban collection of toiles which reveal subverted scenes of modern day debauchery. Entitled London, Glasgow and Edinburgh, the prints touch on social and political themes in a most decorative way.
Another designer updating the Toile de Jouy is London based artist and designer Julie Verhoeven. Having established a diverse career in the arts ranging from moving image to fashion illustration, she collaborated with renowned illustrator Peter Saville last year on a range of wallpaper entitled ‘Forget Me Not’. Starting with the traditional toile, their design took a more sexual and perversive stance with their prints showing images of Japanese bondage and pornography.
The beauty of Toile de Jouy is in the details. From afar it can appear chintzy and rather old fashioned but as many new designers are proving, the detail reveals very modern ideas.