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Gallery: Lace is back

Johannesburg - Bold, bright and striking motifs have dominated decor style in South Africa for a while now, so the time is just right for a whimsical new trend to breeze its way in. Enter lace.

The intricate patterns of lacework have been trending in Europe for a while, in upholstery fabrics, soft furnishings, lighting, walls and homeware. It brings a lovely, delicate touch, and defers to an era of delicacy, romance and sophistication.

In South Africa, interior designer Tessa Proudfoot was quick to pick up the lace trend, and in August introduced a linen furnishing fabric collection called “Olmetto Lace”, featuring an all-over print interpreting the designs used by ancient Italian lace-makers. It is available through St Leger & Viney.

The major homeware stores, such as Woolworths, Mr Price Home and @Home, have introduced lace or lace-like detail in everything from bed linen, cushions, towels, napkins and placemats to furnishings like lighting, baskets and mirrors, featuring gorgeous damask or vintage crochet patterns to more contemporary, lacy weaves.

“Lace is still at the beginning of its run in South Africa, following the trend in Europe, but what you’re seeing is a delightful local interpretation of it, as in delicately woven, African-style baskets,” says Candice dos Santos from The Silk and Cotton Company.

Used in pendant lightshades, lace works wonders, emitting a twinkling glow through tiny holes. It is particularly lovely in bedroom fabrics.

“A softer, shade on shade approach to lace is lovely... a return to bedroom romance,” says Lorraine van Zwieten, managing director of Chrysalis, a luxury linen supplier.

Lace has also found its way into curtains, as well as wallpaper, creating snowflake-like effects against plain backdrops.

But unless it’s white on white subtle, interior designers like to use lace sparingly, as a single strip of lace-like paint effect on a wall, for example, or in upholstery fabric on only the back of a chair. You could even frame a fragment of lacework, or cover a vase with lace, to add just a little of its delicate sensuality to a room.

The revival of lace in decor follows its debut on Europe’s fashion catwalks last year, with ladylike lace and crochet work used by designers like Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana and Jason Wu. Although vintage lace is always appealing and easy to find, the challenge is using it in a contemporary way, which is what the new lace trend is all about.

So doilies from your grandmother’s time are finding brand new representations. Joburg ceramicist Sandy Godwin rolls lace into porcelain clay to make an imprint on plates or bowls, for instance, or she dips a piece of crochet into liquid clay and then glazes it, so that the crochet leaves the print and texture in the porcelain.

Tessa Proudfoot says that in creating her new lace fabric collection, “by printing the design of lace patterning into a heavy linen base cloth, we achieved a contrast between the fine filligree of the design and the chunky weave of the linen”.

These days you can find metal boxes or utility holders with lace cut-out detail, and even cutlery embossed with lace motifs, adding visual intrigue to your dining utensils.

If you browse online, you can find exquisite lace motifs in rugs, or funky crochet lampshades made of nothing more than cotton and epoxy.

Lace is tactile and visually intricate, adding depth and visual interest without requiring changes to the colour scheme of the item it’s being used to enhance. So if you love whites, creams or mushroom colours, lacework can really bring these fabrics to life.

Or, if you love colour, lace can be set into brightly coloured materials or against textural fabrics like velvet. This works well on cushions or on lampshades.

In Proudfoot’s new range, she imposes white lace detail against an inky, indigo background in a striking and modern treatment.

Says Proudfoot: “The beauty of lace is in the intricacy of the balance between solid forms and open forms, in other words, the filigree detail that gives lace its character.” - Helen Grange, The Star

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