How a 16th century adventurer inspired a Lancashire interior design company
PUBLISHED: 00:00 26 April 2018
Amy Hardman's fascination with a 16th century collector helped her create a new interior design concept, writes Roger Borrell.
John Tradescant was a 16th century cross between David Attenborough and Monty Don, travelling the world collecting rare plant specimens and oddities from the natural world.
It was an age when gentlemen liked to keep a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ and adventurers such as Tradescant filled them up with all manner of exotica. Without him, and the son who was to follow in his footsteps, English gardeners might not enjoy such delights as the white hellebore or purple crane’s bill, both collected during an expedition to Russia.
Today, the Tradescant collection forms an important part of the display at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, giving us an insight into the ways our forefathers acquired knowledge of the natural world.
It’s a subject that fascinates Lancashire interior designer Amy Hardman, who has named her Bowland business Tradescant & Son. Many of the illustrations and the physical pieces collected by him have inspired her recently- launched collection called The Curator.
It features 18 unique and unusual designs printed onto 100 per cent linen with six co-ordinating wallpapers which are printed onto a premium weight non-woven, coated paper. These are bird, bone, animal, insect and botanical themed prints, all of which have been drawn by artists, who then meticulously hand colour each design.
The historic story that accompanies the collection and the fact the fabrics and wallpapers are created in England – much of it in Lancashire – means they have been attracting international attention with stockists established in New York, Moscow, Canada and New Zealand.
Amy lives in a remote part of Lancashire near Newton in Bowland and works from her studio next door.
She was born in Ribchester and went to school at Oakhill College in Whalley before embarking on a career in IT. But she had always been passionate about interior design and she decided to make a career change in 2005.
Her desire to come up with a collection that was unique to her business involved lengthy research which helped to build up a catalogue of interesting drawings and designs.
This evolved into a collection that was created to work with the colour schemes favoured by interior designers. They can also provide bespoke colours.
‘We wanted the business to be wholly British,’ says Amy, who is married to the managing director of a north west packaging manufacturer. ‘Everything is made in England, much of it in Lancashire. For the linen, we decided on the quality we wanted and the found the weavers to make it.
‘The designs are organic and very simple and they are able to mix and match with the traditional and the more modern interiors schemes.
‘We spent a lot of time creating something that was unique and there are designs – seagull skulls, for instance – that you will either love or hate. Having said that, we’ve had nothing but positive reactions.’
Now she has launched one collection, 37-year-old Amy is already looking at future developments. ‘We don’t want to stagnate so we are working on the next designs.
‘We are keen to keep launching new things. We are also looking to develop a range of homeware items to complement our collection.’
Amy has the help of Kate Shoebridge, a hardworking assistant, and that’s just as well. A few days after launching the collection Amy discovered she was pregnant. And with a four year old daughter and two-year-old twins already demanding her attention, working days are full to say the least.
‘It’s one big juggling act and it’s very hard work,’ she says. ‘But it keeps me sane!’
You can find out more at tradescantandson.com