2018 is a year of celebrations for BCFA member Gainsborough; it is the mill’s 115th anniversary, which they’ve marked with the launch of three ground-breaking collections. Gainsborough has designed, dyed and woven the finest interior fabrics in their dye house and weave shed in Sudbury, Suffolk, since 1903, only using natural yarns. That artisanal and flexible approach to weaving has earned them an enviable reputation, and a Royal Warrant, but times change and so do the needs of designers and clients.

During FOCUS 2018 at the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour (16 – 21 September), Gainsborough launched its first three Criterion collections. Gainsborough Criterion offers the best of all worlds: the beauty and integrity of Gainsborough’s fabled designs in a versatile range of fabrics, at price points and performance levels that allow designers and specifiers to bring those designs for drapery and upholstery to their entire schemes and the most demanding environments.

Gainborough Fabrics Goring Hotel

Criterion I is a drapery collection of six beloved archive designs, all 100% inherently flame-retardant (IFR), each in 9 colourways.

“We like to involve our sales and design teams equally in the development of any in-house collection. Marrying design with usability is key to standing out in a crowded market, and the eclectic but successful combination of designs in the Criterion collections is a result of this fluid way of working; as specifiers at the Hotel Interior Design event in June in Berlin put it, Criterion is wonderful in part because it is unlike anything else on the market. The designs span the breadth of our archive, with the Dedham Damask – an 18th Century Italianate design – presented comfortably alongside The Hilversum, a modernist take on a mid-Century design.”

Gainborough Fabrics Goring Hotel

Criterion II is an upholstery-grade collection that passes 40,000 rubs and Crib 5 FR, bringing together three 1950s-inspired designs, each presented in 9 colourways, alongside the three designs (in three colourways each) developed initially for the Sir John Soane’s Collection in 2017.

“The Sir John Soane’s fabrics in Criterion II are part of a 9-design collection we developed under licence in 2017. That collection was to be as spectacular as the museum, to allow devotees to bring elements of the museum into their home. Three of the designs were developed in IFR Polyester, achieving 40,000 rubs on the Martindale test, thus making them perfect for both upholstery and drapery. John Soane’s Mosaic is based on a detail from a watercolour in Soane’s bedchamber, depicting a 2nd Century Roman mosaic pavement, since re-laid in the Vatican. John Soane’s Chair was inspired by the mahogany and leather chairs in the Dining Room, made by John Robins in 1821; once pristine, the leather now has a charming patina that this design replicates. John Soane’s Crêpe is an imitation of the false porphyry found in the wall of the Entrance Hall, which translated into a sophisticated corresponding plain.”

Gainborough Fabrics Goring Hotel

Criterion III is a further upholstery collection of 20 stunning stripes, incorporating noble yarns for a more luxurious feel, yet also passing 40,000 rubs.

“As well as launching these contract-ready fabrics, and thereby opening a whole new chapter for the company, 2018 saw Gainsborough enjoy a walk-on part in the event of the year. As with the wedding of his brother and his father before him, Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex began their married life sitting on Gainsborough-upholstered seats in an Ascot Landau carriage. The year will end with the opening of the permanent showroom that Gainsborough shares with McKinney & Co. (a group company) in the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, allowing London-based specifiers a convenient place to see our fabrics for themselves if they cannot make the journey to the Mill in Sudbury.”

Gainborough Fabrics Goring Hotel

Founded in 1903 and holder of a Royal Warrant to HM The Queen, Gainsborough embodies British craftsmanship; their fabrics hang in the finest hotels, palaces, museums and fine homes, private jets and yachts around the world. The Criterion collections are distinct from anything else on the market and reflect Gainsborough’s heritage as a design-led manufacturer. As a new member of the BCFA, Design Insider are excited to see the new ranges and projects Gainsborough have been involved in – watch this space! For further information, visit their site or contact them.

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About Meg Vockins

Meg is the Marketing and Membership Executive for BCFA. She enjoys writing about the different projects companies have been involved in, as well as new product ranges that are interesting and colourful! If you would like to appear in the Design Insider Live please do send over an email to
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