Need a dose of optimism? Pattern artist Liz Roache’s new fabric collection for Pierre Frey is just the ticket

Emma Love
·2-min read
Photo credit: Liz Roache for Pierre Frey
Photo credit: Liz Roache for Pierre Frey

From ELLE Decoration

Pierre Frey has teamed up with American artist Liz Roache to reproduce a handful of her original graphic artworks as fabrics, wallpaper and rugs. ‘I have a crush on all of Liz’s work; it’s the simplicity of her designs, the strong primary colours, the geometric modernity...’ enthuses Patrick Frey, president of the French fabric house, whose showroom in the Boston Design Centre is adjacent to Roache’s studio.

Photo credit: Caitlin Cunningham
Photo credit: Caitlin Cunningham

Within the latter, the artist works at a huge table, permanently surrounded by coloured paper in more than 400 shades. ‘All of my art, whether in colour or black and white, begins with a paper study,’ affirms Roache, whose bold signature style is based on the Bauhaus principles of harnessing the potential of basic forms.

‘I try to see which colours work together dynamically, how they will interact and bring out the best in each other. I assemble colours, create shapes, glue them together, take out pieces and add more until I end up with something that sings.’

Photo credit: Liz Roache for Pierre Frey
Photo credit: Liz Roache for Pierre Frey

This playful, hands-on way of creating pattern was also applied to the artworks selected by Frey that are launching as four designs this month: ‘Liz’, ‘Saturday’, ‘Surprise’ and ‘Optimist’. ‘With “Liz”, I cut a long piece of paper into 37 strips and played with them until I found a coherent composition: six striped squares forming a rectangle and reproduced indefinitely,’ explains Roache. Meanwhile, the repeated circles seen in ‘Optimist’ were inspired by MoMA.

Photo credit: Liz Roache for Pierre Frey
Photo credit: Liz Roache for Pierre Frey

‘On the last day of a project at the museum, I went through all the exhibits, taking pictures and also took home catalogues. I laid everything out on my table and broke it down into more than 50 colours, then matched those with my coloured papers and cut out circles. Finally, I tried to compose a palette that worked and I liked.’

Roache has always been a fan of vivid hues, but it was meeting Ati Gropius in the 90s, the daughter of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, that shaped her vision. ‘Ati opened up a whole other world for me,’ she recalls. ‘I took as many of her Bauhaus-based colour and design courses as I could.’ Now, for the first time, this distinct approach has been translated into homeware – and the results are as brilliantly bold, as you’d expect. pierrefrey.com lizroache.com

This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration October 2020

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