Some might not recognize the name, but view the iconic pattern and you will know it in an instant. Whether it’s from your old aunt’s wallpaper, a five-star Normandy hotel’s boutique suite, or a porcelain plate, the French aesthetic is iconic.
The birthplace of the famous fabric pattern Toile de Jouy is Jouy-en-Josas. The small town is located just 7km from Versailles Palace, which presumably explains why the Oberkampf linen factory that first produced the pattern on cotton received royal accreditation.
Oberkampf might be familiar to those who have been to Paris – Rue Oberkampf in the 11th arrondisement is named after Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf, the founder of the factory and entrepreneur who developed the cotton printing system.
Interesting fact #1: the factory produced more than 30,000 designs, co-operating with famous artists of the time, such as Fragonard and Boucher.
The elements were traditionally bucolic rural scenes but didn’t have to be. Writings on the history of the design note that they were often on the cusp of the current social trends and were even used to send political messages. The ability to include a narrative on a pattern is maybe what has made toile de jouy a steadfast design favourite.
Interesting fact #2 : did you know Beastie Boys member, Mike Diamond, has designed his own Brooklyn version of toile.
Toile de jouy can be used to show dreams, to reflect trends or to subvert reality. The fabric is literally a blank page. Just like the cotton was to Monsieur Oberkampf. We’ll concede he was an German who took French citizenship and rightly so, because his commercialization of the pattern created a gallic classic.
Interesting fact #3 : toile de jouy has come to the attention of Café du Cycliste.
To be continued.