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Romo’s Ilsa Camellia fabric, with its bright pink leaves and clementine-colored blossoms, is perfect for a girl astride a Vespa or seated on a French 1920s art deco bergère.
Once we at MILIEU saw its playful versatility, we couldn’t resist experimenting with one of Romo Ltd.’s signature fabrics — the Ilsa Camellia.
A bold, outright fun design that explodes with color inspired by Matisse’s vivid cutouts, this soft linen-cotton adds infinite interest to two French 1920s art deco bergères we found at an antiques shop and a delightful summer frock we had custom made for a young model. MILIEU recognized that the traditional floral pattern was made delightfully modern and fresh, and the fabric, which retains a slight slub effect, perfectly rejuvenates a vintage piece of furniture, so much so that it affects the way you might sit on it. And anyone young at heart will love a summer dress made from this motif featuring vibrantly scaled flowers decorating graceful but hardy branches.
Invention, enthusiasm, and dedication have long been the watchwords of this 112-year-old family business, now in its fifth generation. It began in 1902, when Robert Mould, an upholsterer, opened a notions shop in Nottinghamshire, England, giving his name to what would become a global empire of highly coveted fabrics, upholstery, wall-coverings, and accessories.
When Robert’s great-great grandson, Jonathan, took the helm in the 1970s, the business broadened significantly. Jonathan and his team defined the Romo brand by developing an in-house design studio. An exacting process, inspired by newly drawn pencil sketches, archived documents, original paintings, and digital designs, resulted in imaginative new patterns. Soon known for its exceptional quality and on-trend allure, Romo expanded steadily, not only throughout Europe, but also around the world. Romo won the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2008, the highest official accolade granted to a company whose contribution to export earnings in the United Kingdom is exceptional.
Romo remains a family business. Felicity Mould, the company’s director of creative marketing, credits her father Jonathan’s drive and business acumen for Romo’s continued success. “It all can be traced to my father’s passion for design, for discovering and marketing the best fabrics. It was his vision that grew this company and allowed us to partner with fine mills and excellent distributors and to attract a diverse and loyal customer base.” It was this very dedication to design that attracted MILIEU to this particular pattern; we could see its inherent versatility and ability to emphasize the lines of a distinguished chair or the silhouette of a young woman’s body.
Today, two of Felicity’s siblings (and one cousin) represent the current generation of the Mould family and contribute to the company’s eclectic style. The company’s additional brands include Villa Nova, Kirkby Design, Mark Alexander, Zinc Textile, and Black Edition. Romo remains the signature brand, defined by its bright color palette, strong prints, and innovative decorative weaves.
“A great strength of ours is the ability to attract brilliant artists and collaborate on exciting projects,” Mould explains. One recent collection that particularly speaks to those strengths is Black Edition, which partnered with au-courant British artist Jessica Zoob, known for her nature-inspired, contemporary impressionistic paintings, to create — through the magic of digital printing — wall coverings, upholstery, cushions, and other accessories. “It’s been a marvelous collaboration,” Zoob remarks.
As in any great and successful design company, innovation continues. When new patterns are developed or old ones refreshed, they inspire ideas in their users as this pattern did for us at MILIEU.
“We are very proud of what my family has achieved in the century we’ve been in business,” says Mould.
WRITTEN BY SUZANNE LEVERT
This story appeared in MILIEU's Summer 2014 issue.