lana porcelain

Creating a new fabric collection – how we do it!

As the build up to our latest collection gains momentum, we thought we would give our readers a bit of an insight into the different stages of the creation of a fabric collection. What you see in interior design and fabric shops is the final product – the pattern books, displays and swatches, but we want to show you what goes in to the whole process.

Our lead designer Janet draws inspiration from her surroundings and travels. As mentioned in our previous posts, Janet regularly sketches whilst she is out and about. She is nuts on design and is constantly developing and discarding ideas! Anything from an interesting flower, the shape of a leaf or the movement of a feather can get the creative juices flowing and gives her ideas or themes for new designs. However, as all artists know, the creative process isn’t always black and white.

Our latest collection features soft following flowers, butterflies and dragonflies as well as beautiful Ombre’ co-ordinates and Upholstery grade fabrics . All have very fluid movements and so create a calm feeling. The collection is called ‘Dierama’ which is the Latin for the flower ‘Angels Fishing Rod’ featured as in the lead fabric of the collection.

Angels Fishing Rod
Dierama Ice Blue

After this design was chosen as the lead fabric, the rest of the designs then followed and the collection began to build.
Once the designs had been drafted, it was time to choose the colours. We are lucky here at Barker & Barker to have very good working relationship with our English based mills who we work closely with during this creative process.
A fun part of this process is of course the colours! Our mills produce ‘Colour Blankets’ for us. These are lengths of our fabric featuring our design that covers the whole colour spectrum. Although this is the fun part, it is also the most agonizing in chosing the right colour.
We study trends past and present to see how the collection will sit in the market but we also want to be at the forefront of trend and be ‘Distinctly Different’ (which is our strap line!). Getting the balance right between past trends and innovation for the future is really hard and exciting at the same time. We are not a ‘run of the mill’ (sorry for the awful pun!)
We have also worked really hard on the durability of our ranges without compromising their feel to ensure they can be used for a variety of settings well into the future.
Anyway, back to the blankets! The colour blankets are fabulous! They really are like a technicolour dream coat and you can always hear ‘ooos’ and ‘ahhhs’ coming from the studio when they are delivered! This is what our design ‘Odonata’ looked like as a colour blanket. You will have to wait until the full launch to see the final chosen colours!

Odonata Colour Blanket

Each blanket features the design in its full repeat but with various different colour combinations running through it. The difference between a fabric that has ‘Natural’ warp as apposed to ‘beige’ or a ‘Black’ warp in considerable. It changes the appearance of the lead colour and can create a whole new look to the design so the decision often comes down to ‘on Natural?’ ‘On Beige?’ or ‘on Black?’. The difference may be subtle to some but for us the difference can literally make all the difference. One thing that Janet wanted to achieve with the collection is longevity.
The main colours used in the collection are soft pink, blue, and yellow pastel shades- all key colour interior trends for 2016. However, she wanted to create some contrast as well. The result of this is the same designs in monochrome colour ways. Shades of grey, black beige and cream give the typically feminine flower designs a real masculine feel especially when they are combined with an almost metallic Ombre co-ordinate. Who said flowers were just for girls?!

Luxor Colour Blanket

As you can see from the next image, the blankets do not look very pretty for long! Once a decision is made, the exact colour choice is cut from the blanket and sent back to the mill to show them the final colour of the fabric.

Cut Colour Blanket

Janet had to choose 8 colours from this blanket – not any easy task but she got there in the end with fantastic results.
After this process we have the first look and feel of what the collection will look like. There is usually yarn all over the studio and cuttings of fabric everywhere (very organized chaos!!) but it means when the mills begin weaving the fabrics, we can begin to think about the story our pattern books will tell.
Find out how we do this in our next blog, which will explain how our books are made to make them work best for you.


Fabric Designs and Trends in Barbados

At the end of June, the Barker & Barker team headed to Barbados to introduce the Island to the Barker & Barker collections, and meet with various Interior designers and potential new stockists. How did we end up looking at Barbados we hear you ask?! Well, Janet (our designer) has been a regular visitor to the island since 1999. The Island holds many special memories of family holidays and long lazy days in paradise and is absolutely overflowing with inspiration for fabric designs. Janet often makes sketches of the beautiful flowers and sights whilst on the Island and so the decision was made to link business with pleasure and explore possible openings there.

The island has a very strong interior design community who were all so helpful and open to share their knowledge of do’s and don’ts on the Island. Whilst discussing the current trends on the Island, it actually came as no surprise that the current ‘Tropical’– a designer fabric trend that is massive in the UK both in the home and on the catwalk, is just as big there. Not surprising considering the surroundings!

The prints are bold and the colours are bright, ranging from bold green palm leaf prints, to almost neon tropical flowers and birds. The rooms are by no means full of the prints though.

When using a Tropical theme in the home, it is important to remember that they should only be used as splashes of colour. Some of the designs are fabulous and it can be easy to get carried away but in this case less is more. For example, use bright cushions on a plain sofa, or striking curtains in an otherwise plain room- you want to make a statement but you don’t want to feel like you are actually in the jungle!

We love the Sanderson ‘Voyage of Discovery’ collection that features a combination of florals, butterflies, Palm leaves and even monkeys.

Clementine-Fabric-Cushion-Detail Floreanna Fabric Main_lr

A bold print like these can be complemented with a plain cushion (our Charlbury Plain fabric would be ideal).

Alternatively, try keeping some plain fabrics and add the tropical theme to a room using a wallpaper, such is this Cole & Son design – perfect for a subtler take on the theme but still on trend.


Its fair to say our trip was a huge success. We secured new stockists on the Island, and plans are now in the pipeline for our own tropical Print collection – with inspiration like this, it would be hard not to!