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Retelling the Classics: Ben Pentreath’s Latest Collection for Morris & Co

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Retelling the Classics: Ben Pentreath’s Latest Collection for Morris & Co

Antony Crolla March 28, 2022

When the renowned British architect and interior designer Ben Pentreath announces a collaboration, we take note. Which is why we are sharing the sumptuous new images of Cornubia—his latest collection for Morris & Co—the furnishings and decorative arts company founded by William Morris in 1861.

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Above: The new collection, Cornubia (which is Latin for Cornwall), has been styled by Ben in a beautifully preserved Arts & Crafts estate clustered around a bay with views over the Cornish coast. Merton’ wallpaper is seen here on the wall behind the sofa.

Followers of Ben’s work will know that he has a natural affinity with the historic brand, who continue to employ traditional methods. (Their wallpapers are surface-printed; their fabrics screen-printed.) In fact, Ben has included a Morris pattern in almost all of his interior projects for many years now.

Named Queen Square (the Bloomsbury location where Morris lived and worked), the first collection was launched in Autumn/Winter 2020 and hailed as a contemporary reinterpretation of Morris’s original designs. Cornubia is Ben’s second, sunnier collection featuring 18 fabrics and 18 wallpapers. (Fabric is available from £99; wallpaper is available from £109.)

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Above: Merton fabric frames the view of Prussia Cove.
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Above: A Willow Bough lamp set against a wall of Blackthorn’. The Willow Bough fabric was originally designed by William Morris in 1887. The bed is draped in Marigold—a 1875 design and one of the few patterns William Morris produced for both fabric and wallpaper.

Bold and playful without tipping over into pastiche, the collection invokes two moods: an awakening landscape and a pervasive sense of nostalgia. “I was keen to develop a range that had a different mood and atmosphere to Queen Square—perhaps sunnier and brighter,” Ben explains. “I began, therefore, with a whole new palette—colors which are on my mind at the moment: tangerine, lemon yellow, primrose, soft pinks, blues, and bright apple greens—the colors of spring and summer.”

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Above: Bachelors Button in the hallway. Inspired by an archive pattern book with Batchelor’s Button on the cover,  this design was the catalyst for Ben’s Queen Square collection.
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Above: Blackthorn wallpaper in the bedroom. Originally designed by J.H. Dearle in 1892, Ben has refreshed the design with a white background.

He continues: “As we translated these new combinations into the historic patterns, there was a visible thrill in seeing how new and happy everything looked and felt! I was like a child in a candy store. Maybe intentional, maybe accidental, but these were the colors and patterns of my mid-70s childhood all over again.”

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Above: A range of new fabrics from the Spring/Summer Cornubia collection.
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Above: The table is set with Willow Bough table cloth with Marigold napkins.

“In developing this collection, as with the last, there are two simultaneous excitements,” explains Ben. “The first is taking timeless and much-loved classics and casting them in a new light with new colors and combinations—but the second is in reviving old patterns that haven’t seen the light of day for too long.”

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Above: Trellis on the walls of the master bedroom.
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Above: The gentleness of Marigold, which is known for its simplicity and fabulous repeat.

The collection recolors timeless classics and sees the re-release of two large scale patterns that haven’t been in production for decades: Merton (formerly Eden)—which Ben first fell in love with after noticing it on a friend’s parents’ sofa more than 20 years ago—and Woodland Weeds. “These, together with the new colorings of Compton, make me happier than almost anything else I’ve seen this year,” he effuses.

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