An interview with the founders of Jacaranda Design Archive
Design with a history: An interview with the creators of Jacaranda Design Archive
Words— Frank And Oak staff
The brainchild of Deby and Richard Earls, Jacaranda Design has grown into one of the most noteworthy and diverse print archives in the world. With a rich background in textiles and antiques trade, the Earls have collected over 50,000 distinctive prints across continents—striving to maintain variety in origin and to respond to current trends — from which they have built an international client base in haute couture, home furnishings, ready-to-wear and paper products.
Privately sourced from the armoires and attics of Europe, the archive print from the collection comprises documents, vintage garments and accessories from the mid-eighteenth century to the 1980s.
We spoke to the Earls during their visit at our head office about their passion for antique fabrics and
the art of finding unique pieces.
Where are you based and where do you source?
Deby: We live in France, most of it is collected in France. We have a team of people who source while we are travelling. The collection has about 50,000 pieces in it so every time we come [over to North America], it’s a different collection — depending on what people are asking for. Last week we were in New York and next week we are in Seattle and Portland so what you see is probably a reflection of what’s trending.
How many years have you guys been doing that?
D: We’ve been doing it since 2000, so 19 years.
Wow, you must have a lot of treasures.
D: Certain things never leave our home. I won’t sell them. [laughs]
So everything is mostly sourced from France?
Richard: Yes. Or let’s say Europe but there will be pieces but you might find that was done in India, but they were done for the European Export Market and ended up in Europe. The French colonies in North Africa as well.
What’s the process for you finding these prints?
D: All of this is sourced privately so it’s people’s estate sales and small markets in country towns.
R: So good news travels fast, so if we go to a chateau and buy some of the old curtains and stuff that is left after the chatelaine has died and the children aren’t interested in the antique fabrics, they will tell their friends that there is this English couple that buys old fabric and it goes like that. We have people, a couple of women in the south of France so we have loads of contacts like that and they will go and attend estate sales and buy things they know we’ll like and then every two or three months we’ll meet.
What kinds of things do you look for and what do you not do?
D: We look for everything and we are always adding new pieces. The whole point is to make the collection diverse, it’s like a library. It’s not based on our personal tastes.
What kinds of clients do you have?
R: J.crew. Ralph Lauren, Phillip Lim, Alexander McQueen, Frank And Oak. We also do home textiles, like wallpapers.
What about copyright infringement?
D: It depends on country to country.
R: But usually, it’s 70 years. If it’s shorter, you have to modify something on the print to be able to use it.
Is there much of this market in the UK? Is that why you are based in France?
D: Yes, the market is there, but there aren’t many designers in Europe. There’s a couple in London, a couple in Paris. There’s a lot of designers in New York and massive print studios and warehouses. And we all travel quite a bit and we all have all our own personality and style.
R: We don’t come from a design background, we come from a textiles and antiques background, beautiful things background so we want to listen to other people. We want to listen to our customers rather than imposing our own tastes or ideas. We were blank sheets when we started.
What did you do before this?
D: We moved to France to run a country house with my family. We had Deby’s mom personal collection of antiques and we were already in that market.
Where do you store your antiques?
D: In our house.
R: We have a large barn filled with trunks of textiles. [laughs]
The new archive print pieces are now available online and in-store.