Year of the Chic
The de Gournay story is one that is familiar in design circles and to connoisseurs of decorative wallcoverings. But for the unitiated, perhaps a retelling is in order.
Thirty years ago, Claud Cecil Gurney, then an accountancy consultant, wanted to restore the antique chinoiserie wallpaper in his London family home.
After several vain attempts, he travelled to the source of handpainted wallpapers – China – where the esoteric art had originated in the 17th century.
After much sleuthing, Gurney uncovered a small community of artisans who had kept the tradition alive by passing on their skills from generation to generation. Keen to showcase this beautiful but dying artform, Gurney decided to set up de Gournay (the Francophone version of his family name) in London, bringing the art to a wider audience.
These days, four de Gournay studios employ those same artisans (plus a few others) who hand-paint more than 50 chinoiserie-style designs on high-quality papers and silk.
In late 2016, design studio Tatum became the sole agent for de Gournay in Singapore and Malaysia, no doubt to the delight of decorators and aesthetes in the region.