Luke Edward Hall & Rubelli: a garden of discovery

Statues, busts and harps alternate with roses and plants, as in an English country landscape. It’s “Return to Arcadia,” the new capsule collection of Rubelli created by Luke Edward Hall, a brilliant, eclectic English designer

“Return to Arcadia” collection by Rubelli (Wobble Grid), design Luke Edward Hall.
“Return to Arcadia” collection by Rubelli (Wobble Grid), design Luke Edward Hall.

He writes in the Sunday supplement of the Financial Times, answering questions sent by readers about aesthetics, interior design and lifestyle. Since opening his studio in 2015, the young English artist and designer Luke Edward Hall has stood out for his love of narration and fantasy, and his poised yet bold British style. Rubelli has chosen him to create its latest collection of fabrics, Return to Arcadia, in which Luke, inspired by his garden at the gates of London, has made jacquards and prints ‘blossom’ together with his passion for Greek art, mythology, and historical figures. Thirteen completely different fabrics, organized in a range of original, fresh, modern chromatic variations, for upholstered furniture, curtains and cushions, mixing various languages. We discover the collection together with its creator.

Folding screen in Antinous fabric.
Rubelli: the setup for Milano Design Week 2022.

How did the collaboration with Rubelli get started?
I was contacted by Nicolò Favaretto, CEO of the company. I think he knew about me because of my collaboration with Ginori 1735, so after a pleasant conversation he invited me to design a collection of fabrics, giving me carte blanche. It has been an incredible experience to work with a company that has such a great heritage.

What are your points in common, or your differences?
I think I have created something unusual for Rubelli, a very colorful collection with bold graphics. The design challenge is an attitude I share and appreciate, to get out of your comfort zone and to make something different. And it is hard to find someone who has the same vision, as in this case.

Chain Stripe and Diamond Stripe patterns.
Luke Edward Hall
Luke Edward Hall

The Return to Arcadia collection displays your love for ancient Greece. How have you been able to interpret it in a contemporary way?
I’ve always been fascinated by Greek art, mythology and architecture, stylemes that are found in most of my works over the last 5 or 6 years, which I interpret in my own way through the use of colors and light patterns, for a fresh, timely effect. I have tried to transform the classical imaginary into a refined, glamorous and playful world, for a collection that is innovative and full of energy. I had the privilege of drawing on a surprisingly precious archive, full of history, like that of Rubelli, where I could discover very interesting patterns and workmanship, and production of the highest quality.

A corner of the Rubelli showroom during Milano Design Week 2022.

What was the creative process?
I live in the English countryside, and I was definitely inspired by my garden, helping me to reproduce the details. Lyres, temples, statues and classical faces appear amidst flowers, leaves and stars. The collection is a mixture of different preferred patterns: striped, floral, geometric.

The drawings were all done by hand…
I always begin with a sketch made by hand, it is one of my typical traits. In Return to Arcadia all the patterns reproduce my drawings, but not in a series: even inside a single pattern, each design is different from the others, unique. I even drew the stripes by hand, which were then transformed into digital format, and the heads of the Greek statues of the Antinous series are multiplied on the fabric, differentiated, each with those slight, inevitable variations that happen in freehand drawing. The result is a collection with an artisanal character.

Rose Garden
Ribbon Bouquet

What were the difficulties of putting these designs into production?
It was not particularly difficult. We went through various phases of study to decide on the type of fabric that could be used with the lively colors, finding just the right balance of warp and weft. But that is part of the normal production process of a company.

The colors required a major effort.
I love color, it is fundamental in all my creations. With Rubelli we have created an entire palette from scratch, mixing rich, dark hues with softer tones. Of course some of my favorite colors are included: lavender, olive green, mustard, pale pink, emerald, blue and burnt orange.

Detail of the Rubelli showroom during Milano Design Week.

What aspects of your personality can be seen in this collection?
I’m an optimist, and the capsule collection fully expresses my joie de vivre, the love of art, the desire to grasp the beauty in things. There is also a playful, irreverent side of my work. I hope all this can also be transmitted to others.

Will your collaboration with Rubelli continue in the future?
Who knows? It will depend on the success of this collection. Fingers crossed!