They may be Timorous, but They’re Beasties all the Same

Once you navigate to the rarefied space of their virtual studio and begin to educate yourself a bit about the Glasgow duo of Alistair McAuley and Paul Simmons–otherwise known as Timorous Beasties–it appears all the more miraculous that this manufacturer of exceedingly strange and interesting textiles and wallpapers was allowed to exhibit at ICFF at all, let alone chosen for the Editor’s Award in the wall coverings category.

Fresco. Designed by Alistair McAuley and Paul Simmons of Timorous Beasties.

As you may have guessed from the company name, McAuley and Simmons have no small amount of affection for the surreal, the bizarre… the outright creepy, in fact. Styled by one critic as “William Morris on Acid,” TB’s work is lavishly colored, daringly dense, grotesquely baroque in some instances, but always stylish, intriguing, and deliriously exciting. Listen to this description of a sample paper from their Glasgow Toile line: “At first glance it looks like one of the magnificent vistas portrayed on early 1800s Toile de Jouy wallpaper, but closer inspection reveals a nightmarish vision of contemporary Glasgow where crack addicts, prostitutes and the homeless are depicted against a forbidding backdrop of dilapidated tower blocks and scavenging seagulls.”

They may be Timorous, but They're Beasties all the Same

White Moth and Iguana. Designed by Timorous Beasties.

Sounds like my cup of Scottish Tea, indeed. Though certainly no strangers to this kind of ecstatically repellent urban imagery, the judges at ICFF were taken with TB’s latest offering, the Solid Wallcoverings Collection, a line of “high spec, made-to-measure” wallcoverings geared toward the contract market, but certainly fair game for residential clients too. The Solid Collection is invested in a hyper-real organicism. The five patterns include “Para Flower,” “Tree of Life,” “White Moth,” “Iguana,” and “Fresco.” Each of which features exceedingly rich and highly textured imagery of plant or animal life–taken from some semblance of the natural world, yes, but agglomerated and saturated such that they enter another realm entirely. Para Flower, for instance, is a spiritual cousin to the purple and yellow blooms of Vincent Van Gogh; White Moth might reasonably be read as an imaginative rendition of the contents of the head of Franz Kafka; and Iguana re-interprets the Golden Age of the Pleistocene in all its savage beauty. If the description sounds a tad bizarre, I’ll just say it takes one to know one. Timorous Beasties’ gorgeous and daring wall coverings are probably not for everyone, but they’re definitely for me, and they’re positively for the discerning throngs at ICFF.

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