The Best of British: Barneby Gates Wallpaper
What a pleasure to recently catch up with the amazing Vanessa Barneby, one half of the dynamic design duo “Barneby Gates”.
Barneby Gates was created back in 2009 by childhood “besties”, Vanessa and Alice. Their “on point” wallpapers and fabrics are responsible for rejuvenating a love of colour and print, with an uber cool contemporary twist. They are just as at home in a slick city pad, as a rural retreat.
Vanessa and Alice enjoyed an idyllic childhood in the beautiful Hampshire countryside, before both heading up to Edinburgh University. Vanessa studied Anthropology and Alice Fine Art, before both specialising in postgraduate art studies.
Vanessa went on to study decorative arts in Hampstead, specialising in the application of specialist paint finishes including murals and trompe l’oeils. From my own experience, this is a world where only your imagination can provide limitation. Whilst working in Geneva with Federica Palacios Design, we had the pleasure of working with the enormously talented Pierre Bonnefille on a number of projects. Pierre is a master of his craft and is nothing short of a miracle worker. His specialist finishes are exquisite, art in their own right, and are frequently exhibited in the world renowned Miami, Basel and Dubai Art Fairs.
It was no surprise that this exquisite specialism catapulted Vanessa into the world of interiors at the highest level. It was no time before she was snapped up by House & Garden as an interiors stylist, and later became the Vogue Living Editor.
Alice studied figurative painting in Italy, before returning to London and working with a number of rather fabulous fashion labels; including one of my all time favourites, Libélua. Libéula is known for its timeless prints, which are sure to inject colour and personality into any wardrobe.
With over a decade of design experience behind them, they both found themselves at an exciting junction in life and ready to face a new challenge. Whilst renovating their own homes, a combined frustration of a “taupe” market became the catalyst for this unique collaboration.
They hit the ground running with the hugely successful launch of “Deer Damask” and have never looked back. Every year sees the launch of two collections, which continue to mix and match pattern and colour to the absolute max. There have also been many exciting collaborations with Rag & Bone and most recently Tabitha Webb, to name but a few.
Both Vanessa and Alice drew on their own experiences and strengths, but are both integral to the design process and constantly share new ideas on Whataspp. Each collection is inspired by a passing moment: a photograph, a meadow, old plaster walls, a vintage French quilt, a tile in a small Italian restaurant. Hand drawn ideas and sketches are then worked up to the final detailed design, before creating their beautiful all British product. Vanessa is quite rightly proud to sustainably source all their materials, as well as print, all their products in the UK.
Vanessa stresses a home/work life balance is important to both, but inevitably work sometimes creeps into family time. Vanessa is rather pragmatic about this occasional intrusion, however, and admirably hopes it will help to instil a strong work ethic in her two children, Lily and Gabriel.
We love BG and continue to use their original wallpaper and fabrics to punctuate our schemes. We are currently proposing “Bolt from Mars” inspired by David Bowies iconic lightening bolt and the uber cool Mexican inspired “Arrows” in current projects.
I press Vanessa on her favourite designs, but unsurprisingly this is an impossible task. Vanessa does admit, however, to showcasing eight designs at home and Alice ten. Apparently Alice’s husband, Harry, is quite used to coming home to unexpected home renovations using their new products!
We also chatted about our own online boutique with Vanessa picking out the Belladonna sofa, Wengler chairs and stone/resin clams as her top three. The super versatile clams are one of our favourites too; we particularly love our larger clam! The perfect way to store rosé on ice, whilst chilling outside on the Belladonna in the summer months!
Barneby Gates rock! Vanessa and Alice effortlessly inspire and excite with each new collection and we can’t wait to see more!