We spoke to Bruce Slorach and Sophie Tatlow of Utopia Goods about their stunning designs, inspired by the flora and fauna of their native Australia. Their hand drawn botanical motifs are one of the freshest takes on floral prints that we have ever seen, now in available in fabric and wallpapers!
WHERE DID THE UTOPIA GOODS NAME ORIGINATE?
The name originated from the meaning of the word ‘Utopia’ being an imagined place, perfect state or ‘heaven on earth’. We wanted to create a textile fabric fantasy that was abundant, imagined, and reflected the natural Australian botanical world. Australian native flowers are unusual, woody, nutty and exotic. Many of them look otherworldly, and we wanted the name to reflect an otherworldly and wild place.
BRUCE'S ILLUSTRATIONS ARE BEYOND STUNNING, WAS THERE A SPECIFIC MOMENT WHEN YOU REALIZED THEY WOULD TRANSLATE BEAUTIFULLY INTO HOME TEXTILES
Bruce has been drawing and painting for over 30 years, across all design disciplines and subjects. About 7 or 8 years ago we determined that there was an absence of contemporary decorative botanical textiles in Australia. Based on our heritage architectural work and with a love of the decorative arts, we started researching and developing an idea around beautiful home furnishings. Given Bruce’s adaptability as an artist, illustrating flora and fauna came as a natural progression of his love of the Australian bush and botanicals in general. Since Utopia Goods started, Bruce has participated in multiple art shows and an exhibition selling the original drawings for the screen prints.
YOU CITE FLORA AND FAUNA AS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR DESIGNS, WHAT IS THE STARTING POINT FOR CREATING A NEW PATTERN?
Each print starts life as a conversation, memory, passage in a book, historical reference and, most importantly, a love and appreciation of a particular bud. Color and scale are vital components when envisioning how a new print is going to become part of the larger textile family; no single print is isolated from its companion print. One print, ‘Paradise’, is based on my Masters thesis and a narrative around endangered native plants and birds within the Daintree Rainforest; basically every print has its own inspiration or story.
WE LOVE HOW YOU USE COLOR, ESPECIALLY HOW YOU COMBINE UNEXPECTED HUES TO CREATE JOYOUS RESULTS. TELL US ABOUT HOW YOU APPROACH CREATING COLORWAYS?
The color is motivated by numerous influences; the natural bush, ocean and waterways of Australia, the history and heritage of Indian and Middle Eastern textiles and endless dabbling in paint colors and Pantone swatches. You can never underestimate the power of the palette. A color palette for a print must consider how it is going to be used within an interior or exterior, it has to be joyful, useable, scheme-able and above all loveable. I’ve always loved that quote by John Ruskin (English art critic and thinker) that said, “The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most."
HOW DO YOU INCORPORATE COLOR AND PATTERN INTO YOUR HOME?
Our home is a colour-kaleidoscope of print, pattern, texture and timely moments. We include colour in every room either by flooring and traditional oriental rugs or kilims, artwork, glass, ceramics, and lots of soft furnishings. We try to avoid contrivances and employ a brave attitude to combining all eras, traditions and colours (without it looking like a color stew). My motto has always been ‘less is bore!’ Along with ‘life’s too short for greige’
IN CASE WE HAVE ANY READERS HEADED TO SYDNEY, WOULD YOU SHARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE LOCAL SPOTS? GARDENS? BEACHES? CAFÉS?
Sydney is well known and loved for its beaches and harbour. It’s hard to go past the glittering vistas! A walk around the Botanical Gardens adjacent to Sydney Harbour is an absolute must-do. The beaches, such as Bondi, Bronte and the ocean pools are gorgeous and the Bondi to Bronte cliff walk is breathtaking. From a food and coffee point of view you get hungry just thinking about it! Sean’s Panorama is a fantastic farm to table experience, and Sydney’s proximity to Asia means that we have the best multi-cultural Asian food.
WHAT'S COMING NEXT?
There are a lot of exciting things on the horizon, including more travel but most thrilling is the launch of our Wallpaper collection this month - there are 15 new prints across a beautiful and usable palette. We’ve been asked for years by clients to reproduce the fabric as wallpapers and for the moment we’re selling exclusively through our Sydney showroom and Studio Four. Wallpaper can make a room and can also be the starring and chic addition to many interior schemes. I love the way it can energize a space. We are so excited that Studio Four are representing it! Why paint the wall when you can paper it! We’re also having an exhibition and event around the iconic Waratah flower in September and in August a large exhibition of Bruce’s work in a major Melbourne gallery (Bruce has shown work and textiles at The National Gallery of Victoria, The Powerhouse Museum and The V & A).