Timing is everything. In 2002, just as fabric designer Richard Smith moved into an oppressively unadorned apartment in London's Pimlico area, near Victoria Station, his newest fabric collection debuted at Osborne & Little. Like any passionate artist, Richard couldn't quite let go.
Instead of waiting to measure the merits of his collection by consumer responses, he put his artistry to a much harder test: He declared his new 715-square-foot apartment a canvas and anointed himself art critic. If he could wake each morning and go to sleep every night with his own fabric designs on the walls, windows, and furniture-and still feel fine-he could pronounce his work good. And if his plain-vanilla apartment happened to morph into something more exciting in the process, well, that was icing.
"I wanted to experiment with the fabrics, and the flat was my lab," he says, sounding more the scientist than the artist. "Designing in a vacuum is one thing. It's quite another to actually see your designs on the walls, the windows, the furniture."
Specifically, he wanted to test the impact of one large-scale print ("Jacobello") from the collection. "I hoped to show that you can use a large-scale print with colors in it as a backdrop without the fabric becoming completely overpowering," explains Richard, who for nine years designed wallpapers and fabrics for Nina Campbell and whose other collections have sold at upscale houses like Schumacher and Brunschwig & Fils.