Designing the Fabric

Telling the story

While Robert Kime would describe himself as an Antiques dealer who decorates, Tom Parr of Colefax and Fowler has said that Robert’s work stems from a deep love for antiques, houses, and people, “which is where all good decorating should start, not from a whim, or a craze or a look-at-me approach”. 

When clients and friends first came to Robert to help them make their houses look like his, he naturally filled the rooms with unique documents and vintage textiles collected from his travels as had always done so at home - Anatolian tent hangings became curtains, Kente cloth covered ottomans, Mezzaro hangings draped beds and lampshades were swathed in antique silks.

As Robert Kime Design jobs grew in size and number, it became harder to find the number and style of document textiles to suit - so Robert decided to try his hand at textile designing, delving into his archive and pulling out a 17th Century Elizabethan Textile from which Robert’s first contemporary fabric was conceived - “Tree of Life.”

Over the next 30 years - Robert, alongside his team and friend and colleague Gisella Milne-Watson, has gone on to create over 200 fabrics where the document and the vintage textile are central to the designs. It would be all too easy to think of colour as a leading force for the fabrics in the collection. 

“It’s what you notice first, but it is not just the colours” Robert explains “The point is the cloth, the weight of it and the textures. The history behind a pattern and fabric. It’s not colour matching, if it was it would be simple to make fabrics. If they weren’t developed using various back cloths, they would be lifeless.”



To pull back the curtain on a few fabrics in the Kime compendium - Robert, Gisella, Orlando Atty & Claire Jackson discuss -



“This tailored scroll design provides movement, but the backcloth peeks through soft places in the design. The historic document lends character.” - Robert 

“Once this is made up into curtains, for example, it changes completely when hanging. The colours provide a lot of depth with movement.”  - Orlando


“This is so well printed, the way that the corn sheaf is only just printed makes it so interesting” - Robert 

“We specifically wash this after it is printed to help give that look, further the natural and wild feel to it” - Gisella 

“It’s graphic and open, it’s clear what is happening and that makes it so lovely to work with. It also has so many uses, such as curtains or as walling” - Orlando

Lorimer Red

“This can be a deceiving fabric, as the fabric is not that big, you don’t need tall windows. The detail that has been created makes it easier to use” - Claire

“We used this as walling in a recent project in Normandy and it worked especially well with the timbers of the house. It also works well with our Queen Anne fabric.” - Robert


“We didn’t think this was going to be a winner when it was made. It was a folly for us, which was decided on a whim, but it is a very calm piece of weaving, with great substance” - Gisella

“ This was based on an old Anatolian tent hanging. Gisella knew it wouldn’t work well as a print - it wouldn’t have the same weight and depth”  - Robert

“ Lined with a stripe, this fabric would be amazing as a base in a modern house with open plan rooms, but works equally well in a cosy drawing room”  - Claire


“This is a beautifully painted and drawn fabric. We tried it on linen using just two screens to see what it would look like and it worked so well we had to add it to the collection. Jardinieres Linen has a completely different look and makes interesting curtains” - Gisella

“This would work well with Hishi & Te from our Nara Collection. Add some marriage cushions and you have an eclectic but timeless look” - Orlando 

“This is perfect for a ‘chintz’ look, without being stuffy or too floral. The red is good to accentuate with different accessories” - Claire 

Like so much in the world of Kime, it is the stories of the designs that further delight, such as the headscarf admired and bought off a fellow traveler on a bus in Turkey that became Pea Pods. Or a typical, but rare 18th Century Silk Needlework fragment that became, Algiers and an iznik tile, hidden in Robert’s collection, was brought to life in Bahar.