I believe there is always a place for beautiful, traditional craftsmanship in any interior design project whether that is a modern building or a traditional style house. The ancient art of embroidery and needlepoint is used in many modern fabrics today. Referencing this design feature in a modern setting will bring depth and purchase to a room in a subtle way. A plain setting can be enhanced by the embellishment and richness this craft will bring.
Embroidery is a traditional way of decorating fabric and has been practised since before medieval times. This craft was commissioned by the court and wealthy nobles to decorate their clothing and wallhangings. It was also used extensively for the church in vestments and altar cloths. This skill was mostly the work of women and done by hand. Today most of the fabrics we buy that have this craft as a part of the design is done by machinery rather than by hand. It still will be an enduring three dimensional element whether used in curtains or in upholstery.
The designs are often taken from the natural world which can bring flora and fauna into a more minimal space.
One of the most enduring designs is the art of crewel work: weaving patterns of surface embroidery using wool. Often linen is the base fabric and the wool can be colourful and create lovely animal and floral images. Quirky insects crawl up these Jacobean style fabrics which work equally well in a modern and historic setting. A very plain room in a cream or off white can be vibrant and warm using a crewel work fabric as curtains. Chelsea Textiles use a wide range of these motifs in their lovely fabric selection.
Needlepoint is a familiar use of embroidery. This cross stitch is used in samplers and tapestries. A cushion or two with this on can spice up a plain sofa. Some have flowers or indeed small dogs such as pugs as a design. Again Chelsea Textiles have a range of lovely needlepoint cushions.
Silk is often embroidered using a more refined technique. The detail is stitched or appliquéd in complimentary threads giving depth and texture to the fabric. James Hare have a wide range of silk fabrics that have traditional trailing floral patterns such as the silk wood silk spindle and the Elizabeth. Embroidery can also take on a distinctly modern look in voiles and sheers. The fabrics of Dedar boast a number of modern embroidered fabrics that would grace a modern living dining room billowing out onto the garden. What these details add to the room is interest without being dominant. The subtle interplay of design and classic fabric bring a decorative element that goes back into the past whilst being firmly planted in the contemporary.