by Emmi Micallef November 27, 2017
I was browsing through Luxe magazine this last Sunday morning after the Thanksgiving holiday, when I came across their article entited, "The Delft Touch" by Michelle Brunner. If you are reading this blog - you may have the same shared passion as myself and designer Nicolette Mayer for these iconic blue and white motifs that draw one back to the 1640's Amsterdam. Trade was at it's height and vessels coming to port from China were filled with blue and white porcelain wares that soon were reproduced by Delft artisans. These artisans were really historians, for they hand painted the natural world around them, as well as daily life from children at play or the ships coming into port. Time capsules evoking stories, my imagination runs free with what life must have been at such an exciting time of trade and new worlds being discovered.
The article in Luxe relates how Nicolette, who grew up in South Africa until moving to the United States at 12 years old, "was fascinated by the confluence of cultures" and one of her fondest memories was the blue-and-white Delft ceramics. For some reason, I can picture her as a child walking into a gallery - perhaps sun filtering through windows - were the smooth, white porcelain wares reflected the Delft blue beauty of line, shape and pattern. Or perhaps I am recalling my own memory - around 12 years old - when I sat down to tea with my great Aunt Pearl in Center City Philadelphia. Filled with sunshine, light yellow walls with white trim, there were shelves upon shelves of Delft porcelain vases that glistened while I drank my tea.
I have carried that memory with me all my life - to the point where when François and I began our company in 2000 - I knew one of the tile collections I would paint would be Delft. Perhaps again, Nicolette was driven by some similar spark? As the article proceeds, Nicolette went to the Maison&Objet fair in Paris two years ago where she was drawn...again...to Delft. This Delft happened to be the Royal Delft display and after conversations occurred with her idea of collaborating on a wallpaper and fabric collection, "the first worldwide licensing agreement went through to bring the company's nearly 365-year-old signature patterns to the covering and soft good market."
I was quite taken aback after reading this - for finally these iconic blue-and-white motifs would enter into the design world influx that could create some fabulous textural and stunning interior design displays. Pattern is mesmerizing and just because these origins date to the 1640's - does not mean they must stay there. Scalamandré offers Nicolette's designs which are now featured on a range of surfaces including metallic grass cloth, pearlescent wallpaper as well as fine Belgian linen.
This finally brings me full circle to my own design passion for blue-and white Delft Tile. As Nicolette states at the end of the article, "There is just something so crisp and classic about blue and white together. It's a color combination that speaks across cultures". And from an artistic point of view, the way I painted my Delft Tiles, it was the shades of blue on a white background that allowed me to tease out emotion and discovery...as if I was living in the 1640's Amsterdam, depicting scenes from my everyday life.
Designing with Delft - from wall paper to tile - will add pattern and clean lines as well as elegance, history and stories to tell. If you are interested, one can view my entire Delft Tile Collection by clicking here.
I hope you enjoyed this blog and perhaps you may see beauty and more design potential with Delft and spark wonderment in another child's eye.Emmi Micallef
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