April 6, 2011

Indore | A Fabric's Life

I love rooms that are chock full of fabric like this Ottoman-inspired drawing room created for Lee Radziwill by Renzo Mongiardino. The tented room also by Mongiardino, was created in part to correct the proportion of a ceiling that was too high. Tented rooms create an exotic air of wonder and divine coziness.

The only tented room I've known personally was quite small. It was on the second story of the original Country Shop in Ogunquit, Maine—the summer house of the shop's founder, Donald Berglund. In the days when Berglund owned the shop— you could always find something chic there—but this was not the case once he gave it up. He entertained a lot on the second floor with its sweeping, elegant terrace overlooking Perkins Cove. I will never forget meeting Mr. Berglund with his wide smile, cigarette holder and a dachshund [Maudie] tucked under his arm. There were framed photographs of Bette Davis who frequented Berglund's cocktail parties during summers when she had performed at The Ogunquit Playhouse, as well as photographs of Montgomery Clift and other movie stars. These photos lined the walls of a hall leading to a small, tented room. It is here that I discovered the wonderful cotton fabric labeled "Indore" that was printed exclusively for J.H. Thorp. I was always crazy about it and loved sitting under its tented glory on small steps that looked out a picture window over the cove. I never forgot about this fabric. And twenty years later... a friend rescued some of it for me. It was being thrown away for a re-decoration after Mr. Berglund had died.

"Indore" printed exclusively for J.H. Thorp

I love its indiennes-provencal motif and painted couples that are quite similar to those seen in the late 18th-century Company Paintings, depicting social castes and occupations. Below is an example of a Company painting from the V&A Museum.

Company Painting from V&A Museum

Company Paintings were produced by Indian artists for Europeans living and working in the Indian subcontinent, particularly for British employees of the East India Company. I would love to learn more about J.H. Thorp's Indore and have asked Courtney of Style Court if she might help with a little investigating! She has some great leads. I am also considering what to do with the fabric. I think I might have just enough to cover two gilt barrel-back bergère chairs. Indore is a fabric that happily continues to live on.

Photo Credits: Tented room designed by Renzo Mongiardino courtesy, Google Images
Lee Radziwill drawing room via Cote de Texas [see Joni's great Radziwill post there]
"Indore" fabric images by My Dog-Eared Pages
Company Painting courtesy, V&A Museum


  1. Barbara --

    First, I just love your story. This fabric will have so many layers of meaning for you and I can't wait to see your completed project!

    BTW: Lee Radziwell's room is such a favorite of mine.

    I'm sorry it's taking me until 2012 to find a definitive answer :) This is post is great and I'm forwarding it to someone who might know right off the bat.

    Thanks again for sharing.

  2. Thanks Courtney! I'm delighted you like the story and are passing it along!! Great ; )

  3. One thing that strikes me about the figures in your fabric is that they are looking out toward us.

    Here's another link that might be of interest:


  4. Thanks Courtney! I love learning more about the Company School - I found more on The Met's site: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/cpin/hd_cpin.htm

  5. LOVE this post as well - and love Courtney's comment about the fabric having "layers of meaning". I think it would look fabulous on your bergéres - that's without having seem them but like the idea. I adored tented room - even just upholstered walls. And with this fabric you get pattern and artwork all in one!!

  6. Hi Q, Thanks for reading! The fabric was truly best tented... the images were like little windows. I wish I had pictures of it then ; )

  7. Mr. Berglund sounded like a fascinating man. Anyone with a dachshund tucked under his arm and loves to entertain in a chic tented room, I would of been excited to meet. Why is it I love the idea/look of a tented room but always think of one thing...'dust'? I'm no fun @ all. Barbara terrific post. You always give us such fascinating, fun information. Buffy and I sent our best to the two B's! xo xo

  8. Deb! I know... I think it might be why I don't have a curtained bed - dust. There must be a secret. At least curtains around beds can easily be taken down and sent off to the cleaners... but an entire room?!! Thanks for stopping by! Best right back to you and Buffy. oxo

  9. Courtney alerted me to this post. You could almost call Indore a Proustian fabric, as it unlocks all these memories for you (and Proust was always fascinated by the romantic associations of a name, like 'Indore' here).

    It is fascinating how this fabric creates an image of 'India' by juxtaposing Company paintings with (presumably) and Indian fabric background. Company paintings were themselves a kind of hybrid, made by Indian artists for the British market using a mixture of Indian and European styles, so that makes Indore a mixture of hybrids (or a hybrid of mixtures!). Add to that your own personal associations, and it becomes a truly layered fabric, as Courtney says :)

  10. Emile, Thank you so much for visiting the Indore post. I love the idea of Indore as a Proustian fabric and a hybrid of sorts! I'm delighted to hear your thoughts, and greatly appreciate your visit to the post! ; )

  11. And even if we never know for sure what the Thorp designers used as a reference, I think Barbara you are right about the figures being more like those in Company paintings as opposed to the older traditional miniatures with figures in profile.

  12. those pillows in the second image are gorgeous...

  13. Mr. Berglund's house sounded like it has such a rich history! I love textiles too and am collecting Hermes scarves in hopes to frame a few.

    Thanks for stopping by -isn't the Kate Spade bike so whimsical and lovely?

    Chic 'n Cheap Living

  14. What fascinating fabrics. You have to wonder just how great the impact of Indian decoration and artwork must have been on the British in India.

  15. Gorgeous and intriguing fabrics! Thanks for sharing!

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  17. amazing. thanks for sharing.

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  18. Love Indore and this terrific story. You might "conserve" by doing another fabric with this one on the bergeres- arms if padded and the backs. contrast welting, check maybe? or something like the ground of this one or a ticking stripe? of course pillows too. I suppose Thorp was inspired by the authentic ones- & had an artist render them to avoid imaging rights & to simplify the number of colors it used. pgt

  19. LA, I do love the idea of ticking for the back of the chairs in a lavender, if I can find it. The other option was using an Indian print bedspread with a white ground. I've been checking our local hippie store frequently and have come close! The fabric was so charming tented. ; )

  20. I am finally close to pairing Indore with John Robshaw's Bindi in Lavender [http://bit.ly/WxM37c].


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