Book of British Luxury | Timorous Beasties designs front cover

Ahead of tonight’s launch of the 2019 Walpole Book of British Luxury at Fortnum & Mason, Paul Simmons, Director of Timorous Beasties – and creator of this year’s instantly iconic Book front cover – talks about the brand’s aesthetic, his influences, and the inspiration behind the intricate woodland-themed Walpole design.

Established in 1990 in Glasgow by Alistair McAuley and Paul Simmons, Timorous Beasties are renowned for their distinctive style and the quality of their printed fabrics, wallpapers, and interior products. Timorous Beasties hand-print their wallpapers and fabrics, but also work with other manufacturers to produce lace, jacquards, lighting, rugs and ceramics. They have produced successful collections for Brintons Carpets and collaborated with brands such as Nike and Famous Grouse.

Timorous Beasties’ work embodies a unique diversity of pattern, ranging from design that echoes a golden age of copperplate engraving (a time-honoured classic is the Thistle range; or Merian Palm superwide wallpaper) to example of a distinctly edgy nature, an elegant transgression, a display of chic irreverence. Yet, the studio fully engages a design discourse with textiles history by lending an aesthetic evolution to time-honoured motifs.

Timorous Beasties is noted for its ‘surreal and provocative textiles and wallpapers’ – can you tell us more about this aesthetic?
Our aesthetic is an idiosyncratic take on pattern with a love of the printed image, and a healthy disdain for the ‘twee’ and ‘mundane’.

What was the inspiration behind the design of the 2019 Walpole Book?
The inspiration for the cover is a heraldic shield created with all the things that reflect and celebrate British luxury and British craftsmanship.

What’s your favourite part of the design process?
The initial drawing and sketching is my favourite part… it’s the actual making that I find the hardest.

How does being based in Scotland influence your work?
Glasgow keeps us grounded.

Finally, what is your favourite luxury for under a tenner?
A freshly baked almond croissant and coffee from my local baker, Cottonrake, before I go to work.