Matthew Williamson is an award-winning, British interior designer known predominantly for his unique and unrivalled use of pattern and colour. Having begun his illustrious career in fashion under his namesake brand for over 20 years, Matthew has drawn on his decades of experience and pivoted seamlessly into the world of interior design. He now develops several homeware collections to sit alongside his growing residential and commercial interior design portfolio.
LAYING THE GROUNDWORK
Growing up in Manchester in the 1970s, Matthew’s passion for colour, aesthetics and design was catalysed by his Mother. Her refined taste and discerning purchases were defined by a set of principles that Matthew cites to this day in his work. Intelligent use of colour, pattern and optimism informed not only his Mother’s wardrobe but his childhood home. “The pride my Mother took in the way she dressed herself and her home has illuminated to me the potency of the joy of design. Putting an outfit or a room together that brings a smile to your face and the faces of others is the objective in any project I undertake.” His education and passion for design bubbled to a head in 1994 when he graduated from Central Saint Martins with a BA Hons 2:1 in Fashion and Textile Design.
MAKING A NAME
Just two years after graduating, Matthew founded a partnership company with Joseph Velosa in September 1996. The company was based out of a flat on the Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1. By December 1996, the label was stocked in Browns London and Barneys New York and was given a one-page Spy feature in UK Vogue’s January 1997 issue.
The mid-1990s involved exciting projects with Dame Zandra Rhodes, Marni underneath Lucinda Chambers and Monsoon, including the creation of dance costumes for Studio Wayne McGregor, which set the tone for Matthew’s debut collection, Electric Angels. The collection debuted at London Fashion Week in September 1997, showing just eleven vibrantly colourful looks worn by models including Kate Moss, Helena Christensen and Jade Jagger. Electric Angels made a huge impact on the fashion world, offering a taster of what was to come in the years to follow.
To celebrate the brand’s 5th anniversary, prestigious photographer and filmmaker, Rankin shot a series of photographs featuring celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Kirsten Dunst and Kelis wearing Matthew’s sought-after silhouettes. These photographs were exhibited in a converted gallery space in West London in September 2002. The image of Jade Jagger was on the cover of Tatler magazine, October 2002 .
It was around this time that Matthew and Sienna Miller began a friendship to last a lifetime. Miller's influence on the Matthew Williamson brand was hugely significant, becoming something of a muse for the then fashion designer. Her decision to wear Matthew Williamson garments to prestigious international events, from the BAFTAs to The Oscars, elevated the brand's reputation to a global status, turning the world's attention to the vibrancy, colour and playfulness of the design house.
Not long after the 5-year milestone, Matthew received two successive nominations for Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards in 1999 and 2000. In 2004, he was also awarded ELLE Magazine’s Designer of the Year Award. The following year, Matthew was awarded the Moët and Chandon Fashion Tribute award. The award ceremony was attended by, amongst others, Sienna Miller, Keira Knightley, Jade Jagger and Helena Christensen and featured a catwalk show of the company’s archive collection.
In November 2008, Matthew went to receive the Red Carpet Designer of the Year Award at the British Fashion Awards.
COLLABORATION AND DIVERSIFICATION
In June 2003 the Matthew Williamson brand collaborated with The Rug Company on a collection of four rugs using prints from the ready-to-wear collections. The collections were sold at renowned stockists worldwide. Starting in September 2003, the company began collaborating with Coca-Cola on applying Matthew Williamson prints onto the iconic glass bottles. The brand went on to work with Smythson, Bulgari and Swarovski, amongst others, to bring the Matthew Williamson aesthetic to different product categories in the luxury sector.
BRICKS AND MORTAR
The Matthew Williamson Bruton Street store was opened in 2004, and in the same year was featured on the cover of The World of Interiors’ July issue. A major style touchstone of the noughties, the store combined the very best in interior and fashion design, using tonal schemes to create vignettes within the store to complement the furniture and the clothing respectively. Suzy Menkes coined Matthew’s arrival at No 28 Bruton St as if witnessing “a bird of paradise fluttering into a brick-and-mortar London street.” In February 2009, the first international Matthew Williamson flagship store was opened at 415 West 14th Street, New York. This was followed by the opening of a third flagship store in June, located in the Mall of Dubai, UAE. On top of the four flagship stores, the brand grew to 150 wholesale stockists around the world.
AT THE HELM
The year 2005 saw Matthew enter his first incoming role as a Creative Director at Emilio Pucci, the LVMH-owned, Italian fashion house. Matthew divided his time between the UK and Italy during this time, creating the womenswear collections for both the Matthew Williamson and Pucci companies. Currently, Matthew is the Creative Director of The Blue Pearl Ibiza, an architectural real estate firm.
A DECADE IN THE MAKING
In 2007, Matthew and his team celebrated 10 years of the brand’s existence with an exhibition at the London Design Museum showcasing the highlights of his first decade in the spotlight, and a 10th-anniversary show at London Fashion Week (after having exclusively shown at New York Fashion Week for the preceding five years). The show featured a surprise performance by Prince who was in London on tour at the time.
HIGH STREET CLASSICS
In April 2009, the brand collaborated with H&M on a summer collection which comprised men’s and women’s ready-to-wear and accessories and was sold from H&M stores worldwide for a limited period. The collection was accompanied by an advertising campaign shot by Sølve Sundsbø with model Daria Werbowy.
BRINGING IT HOME
The early 2010s saw the brand pivot seamlessly into the homewares market. Matthew’s foray into interior product design was with a wallpaper and fabric collection with Osborne & Little in 2013. Subsequent annual collections have amassed into a diverse body of work, showcasing iconic Matthew Williamson designs in unexpected ways. The annual collections are available worldwide through Osborne & Little showrooms and stockists. Deià Meadow went on to win ELLE Decoration Wallpaper of the Year 2019, while other designs can be seen in hotels, restaurants, and exquisite homes around the world.
Within the first few years of his interior design career, Matthew was commissioned by iconic hotel Blakes to design their summer courtyard. In 2015, he collaborated with installation artist Rebecca Louise Law, transforming the space with objets d’arts and textiles from his Osborne & Little range. He has since re-designed the courtyard to form a permanent, lush oasis at the hotel in South Kensington, London. In the same year, Matthew was commissioned to design the bridal suite of 17th century stately home Aynhoe Park in Oxfordshire.
Matthew’s first range of bespoke furniture launched in 2016, created in collaboration with Nottingham-based sofa manufacturer Duresta. In March 2017, Matthew launched the range in the USA at ABC Carpet & Home in New York. They created a suite that encapsulated Matthew’s aesthetic, using a rainbow palette and details to intrigue the eye. Matthew was joined by Sienna Miller, Lauryn Hill and friends from New York to launch the collection.
20 AND BEYOND
The brand’s 20th anniversary in 2017 saw Matthew commissioned to design the interiors of Nama Bar in Deià, Mallorca. Vogue USA praised the project, saying, “Nama Bar incorporates many of the designer’s signature design elements: intense colour combinations and intricate patterns, plus a healthy dose of gorgeous, vintage-sourced furniture.”
The following year, Matthew designed Suite 67 at Belmond La Residencia, also in Deià, about which author, brand consultant and TV presenter, Michelle Ogundehin, said, “[Suite 67] is peppered with quirky touches which will no doubt become his interior hallmarks: a judicious use of colour, hand-painted vintage furniture and gloriously detailed wallpaper used unexpectedly on ceilings and inside cupboards.”
A LA TABLE!
In 2018, the “interior hallmarks” that Ogundehin had predicted would define the brand’s aesthetic found their way to the table. In a collaboration with Italian tableware brand, Les Ottomans, Matthew created a range of decadent plates trays, tablecloths and napkins embellished with ikat prints, stars and peacock feathers. His eye for applying these motifs to smaller-scale accessories catalysed a collaboration with Newby Tea in the same year, offering a selection of high-quality tea blends in printed caddies. Matthew’s love of vibrant colour and intriguing prints is evident in the trio of original designs, based on hand-painted watercolours inspired by stories of the east. The intricate characters of the three specially created tea blends are also reflected in the elaborate artwork.
In 2019, the brand celebrated its longstanding affinity with florals with a Bloom & Wild collaboration. The florist and flower delivery service commissioned three special-occasion bouquets inspired by frosty mornings and English country gardens, as well as a bespoke packaging box decorated with a hand-drawn still life.
2019 established Matthew’s reputation in the world of interiors with his appearance as a guest judge on the BBC’s Interior Design Masters. The BBC Two series was presented by Fearne Cotton with former Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Decoration magazine, Michelle Ogundehin. Netflix has acquired the global rights to the show, and Matthew will appear in the finale of series 2, airing in early 2021.
In 2020, Matthew was a guest on the Tea with Twiggy podcast, where the model, actress and singer interviews a variety of high-profile guests over a cup of tea, and also features on The Great Outdoors Podcast with interior designer, Sophie Robinson and journalist and design blogger, Kate Watson Smyth. He also appeared on Livingetc’s Home Truths podcast to discuss the design milestones in his life that have comprised his illustrious career in design..
This year, Matthew Williamson teamed up with Vinterior, the online marketplace for vintage and antique furniture, to create a series of online, shoppable Edits to help customers find exactly what you’re looking for to create a one-of-a-kind, totally personal living space. Antiques play a significant role in Matthew’s interior design projects, allowing personality, uniqueness and charm to flood the space, especially when paired with contemporary wallcoverings or artworks.
Matthew Williamson also teamed up with Pooky to create a quintessentially Williamson collection of decorative lampshades, which launched in October 2020. A heady mix of Ikats, florals, animal and palm prints comprise the rustically decadent collection, marrying playfulness with refinement. The collection was inspired by Matthew’s great love of lighting. “Great lighting is key to any beautiful interior,” he says. “It’s like the accessories to an outfit and can elevate a space. All of my rooms at home are filled with interesting lights, and I use them to create little pockets of warmth to give a sense of intrigue to each and every corner."
In his second collection of rugs launching in the spring of 2021, Matthew has partnered with Obeetee, the world leader in handwoven rugs. Today, Obeetee has one of the largest and most cutting-edge rug manufacturing facilities in the world. Matthew’s collection will see his joyous designs inspired by the natural world, from starry skies to the dense undergrowth of tropical forests interpreted by the skilled weavers in India.
Statement-making furniture can be found in any of Matthew’s design schemes. His collaboration with Roome London, launching in spring 2021, comprises a collection of exquisitely manufactured furniture featuring graphic and colourful patterns and visuals. From bar cabinets to divider screens, the collection fuses Art Deco silhouettes with contemporary design.