Design Launch: Joules Collaboration for DFS

November 30, 2017

DFS Joules Collaboration Furniture Vintage pattern 2017

Image: Design Soda

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This week sees the launch of a furniture collaboration between DFS and Joules using fabrics and colourways designed by the Joules team and the British made furniture know-how of DFS. Since the press day at Bourne & Hollingsworth back in September there has been a big buzz around this collection with its almost neon golden yellow velvet chesterfield and vintage florals that have been circulating for months (and resulted in an inundation of customer enquiries) there’s something bold, playful and quintessentially British about it all. 

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Images: Design Soda

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I was delighted to be invited by DFS and Joules to a stay in the Peak District with a tour of the DFS studio where they unveiled the new collection a few weeks ago. I’ve never been to the Peak District before and a tour of the outdoors was exactly the tonic this city girl needed, I arrived early so that I could take a decent wander but I really could have stayed much longer, it was all so pretty. 

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DFS Joules Collaboration Furniture Vintage pattern 2017 DFS Joules Collaboration Furniture Vintage pattern 2017

Images: Design Soda

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Both DFS and Joules are stalwarts of British design, the former having been in business for 40 years, the latter having set up shop in Market Harborough some 30 years ago, so being British is very important to both brands and every inch of these pieces have been designed and produced here. From the mills in which the fabric has been dyed and woven to the furniture carcasses assembled in DFS factories, every inch of these products are British. Which is something of a rarity in these days of global manufacturing and adds something special to the ownership of pieces from the range.

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DFS Joules Collaboration Furniture Vintage pattern 2017

DFS Joules Collaboration Furniture Vintage pattern 2017

Images: Design Soda

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I did know that DFS was a British producer of furniture but I was surprised to learn on our visit to their design studio that every single item sold is made to order after purchase. I had imagined big barns full of furniture hauled off conveyor belts of production but the piece you receive is far more bespoke that that. As a lovely perk of the trip each blogger was gifted an armchair from the range of their own choice. I chose my favourite(floral) print in navy velvet for my mother, and we were given the opportunity on the trip to help upholster our own chairs. Now I’d be lying if I said that I achieved anything significant or accomplished, but it did afford the opportunity to see into the nooks and crannies of how a chair like this is produced and to see just how quick and skilful the DFS design team are. Just the speed at which they operate the industrial staple guns is intimidating in itself! 

/DFS Joules Collaboration Furniture Vintage pattern 2017

DFS Joules Collaboration Furniture Vintage pattern 2017 (1)

DFS Joules Collaboration Furniture Vintage pattern 2017

 

Images: Design Soda

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The neon sunflower sofa is a big buzz on Instagram (indeed its Joules most liked picture ever!) and the stripes a hit with those that like more pared back interiors, but my favourite was the florals. Inspired by a piece of vintage fabric, these florals are both pretty and delicate, working as pastiche and as a simple modern aesthetic. The design reminds me of some of Cecil Beaton’s floral designs which were made into fabrics and paper a few years ago, indeed I could imagine this sofa perfectly on a Beaton set or even at his home, Ashcombe. One of the clever details in this collection is the compromise it makes with individual style, the underside of the sofa cushions are plain, so you could have a floral sofa in summer for example and a plain one in winter. I rather like the idea of being able to turn just a few of the cushions so that you have a hint of floral but without all the punch. 

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DFS Joules Collaboration Furniture Vintage pattern 2017DFS Joules Collaboration Furniture Vintage pattern 2017 DFS Joules Collaboration Furniture Vintage pattern 2017

Images: Design Soda

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One of the loveliest aspects of this collection is in the detail. Joules as a clothing brand are known for their use of quirky details juxtaposed with the traditional, tweeds with neon zips, a singular contrasting button on a shirt, some colourful stitching in an unexpected place, and this signature style has been transferred onto the furniture collection. You will find two pheasant buttons on the chesterfield armchairs, four on the sofa, the hare print on the sofa lining, brightly coloured zips for sofa cushions, a neon hare on the back leg of a sofa. Pretty well everything in the collection has a surprise of this nature and makes a great play of the brands brightly hued humour.

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DFS Joules Collaboration Furniture Vintage pattern 2017

DFS Joules Collaboration Furniture Vintage pattern 2017

Images: Design Soda

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Having looked at the collection, we were given a masterclass by some of the talented design team at Joules where we all designed our own cushions. I confess that I hate making art, I’m woefully inadequate at transferring what I can see onto a page, so with a sinking feeling in my stomach I began the class anxious not to embarrass myself too dismally. I’m not saying I’m especially proud of my efforts (below) but what I did really enjoy about the class was the loosening up exercises and hearing about how the team find inspiration for their patterns. We were shown mood boards, vintage fabric samples and examples of illustrations made by the team on a visit to Petersham Nursery which gave a small glimpse into the process of how a pattern is created at Joules. 

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Image: Design Soda

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One final word about the DFS studio which was unexpectedly very pretty! No really, take a look, I had imagined that we’d be going to an industrial estate lacking any charm or architectural merit but the studio is actually housed in an old Victorian mill in Long Eaton and I was so taken with it. Maybe just because we were up north I was visualising Morrissey here in a pose similar to the Salford Lads Club shots of The Smiths.

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Northern Mill DFS Studio Long Eaton (2) Northern Mill DFS Studio Long Eaton (4) Northern Mill DFS Studio Long Eaton (4)

 

The collection from DFS launches this week and includes both my favourite floral sofa and the bright yellow chesterfield, you can view the full collection here. I leave you with a few pictures of the pretty Peaks where all this industry is nestled.

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Peak District, Autumn

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