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V&A INSPIRED, JOHN LEWIS DESIGNED

Inspired by the riches of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the John Lewis Design Team has created exclusive pieces for your home. Here we explore the details and inspirations behind the series.

Having spotted a trend for increasingly decorative pieces in the home, design manager Philippa Prinsloo and her expert Design Team at John Lewis knew just where to look to inspire their new collection.

The Victoria and Albert Museum has been established in the heart of London on the South Kensington site for more than 160 years. The world’s largest archive of decorative arts, design and manufacturing history, it houses 2.3 million objects. Even the architecture of the V&A is elaborately detailed and decorated, and the Museum continues to be a beacon of creativity and inspiration for current and future generations of designers and innovators.

“The V&A is incredibly rich in inspiration,” says Philippa. “You could probably visit it every day for the rest of your life and still find new things there.

“We wanted to create beautiful contemporary pieces that would celebrate the V&A, and that either help you enjoy something you already own even more, or that are decorative additions to your home which could become future heirlooms.

“There are just 17 products in total, so it’s a special capsule collection,” she adds. “And for furniture it’s a one-batch production, so once those pieces are sold, there will be no more.”

Here, Philippa shares the inspiration behind a few of the pieces in the series.

THE CRYSTAL LIGHT

“With its cloche shape and interior engraving, The Paxton is inspired by Joseph Paxton’s innovative glass structure, the Crystal Palace. This splendid pavilion housed the Great Exhibition of 1851 – the profits of which helped fund the creation of the V&A. This was one of the most challenging items to produce. We forget just how much effort goes into the making of things, and this level of decoration helps to remind us.”

THE TRINKET TRAY

“For some of the Museum’s more intricate displays, they provide a magnifying glass so you can lean over and look in more detail. We wanted to use this in the Victoria magnifying jewellery dish to enable you to look at your own jewellery and really appreciate the intricate detail.”

THE MARQUETRY SIDE TABLE

“You see marquetry on large and small pieces in the V&A, and it’s very intricate. Each individual element of the pattern has to be cut to size, of course, but although the patterns are still hand-placed, the pieces are laser-cut for precision. It’s a very interesting use of modern-day technology that makes decoration more accessible. The Jack marquetry side table is named after George Washington Henry Jack, an Arts & Crafts designer who revived marquetry techniques.”

THE JAPANESE-INSPIRED TABLEWARE

“The V&A was originally built to showcase the best examples of art and design from around the world, so we wanted to explore exotic patterns from overseas, and the Museum’s Toshiba gallery, which houses the Japanese collections, is just stunning. The natural world is central to Japanese aesthetics, with artists continuing to revere it and draw inspiration. This range explores the Japanese attitude to nature, and we’ve used these very distinct motifs that evolve geometric patterns. The idea was to give a sense of walking through a gallery as the objects capture your imagination.”

THE PRINTED WALLPAPER AND CUSHIONS

“The interior of the V&A gave us so much inspiration, from the patterned inlay of the floor and staircase to the objects themselves, and we’ve been able to use contemporary techniques such as digital printing on the velvet, and a Mica finish on the wallpaper, for a pearlescent shimmer. All of the textiles catch the light beautifully, and they can be used together or just as a single addition to your space.”

THE GEOMETRIC WALL LIGHT

“This light is an imaginative take on the standard plaster wall light: when you turn it on, suddenly you’ve got that incredible pattern on the wall. The illuminated flower petal effect reflects the influence of Owen Jones, a champion of Islamic art and geometric forms inspired by nature.”

THE COLLECTORS’ CABINET

“You could go on a tour of the V&A just looking at cabinets, because they are exquisitely made. When we started this project we had a fantastic tour by a curator who showed how collectors have helped shape what’s in the Museum. We named the Fitzhenry collectors’ cabinet after Joseph Henry Fitzhenry, an art dealer and collector who donated many objects to the V&A.”

The V&A inspired, John Lewis designed series is available exclusively in John Lewis shops and online now.