In February I blogged about the work of wallpaper/pattern designer Florence Broadhurst after Kate Spade NY featured her iconic prints in their new collection. I was so inspired by her work and story that I bought her biography, Florence Broadhurst: Her Secret & Extraordinary Lives by Helen O’Neill. I finally got to reading it this weekend and I couldn’t put it down! Broadhurst was an amazingly complicated woman: singer, actor, clothing designer, socialite, truck yard operator, and finally, iconic wallpaper designer in her 70’s. How could one person lead so many lives? Her life came to an untimely end when she was brutally murdered in her studio and her murder remains unsolved until this day.
It was particularly interesting to hear about her life and travels, and how it influenced the studio she lead for over 15 years. In the book you learn about her curious methods, the artists she hired to work for her, many of whom were incredibly young and how she constantly reinvented herself. You also get to see the huge breath of her work, which stands close to 500 different pattern designs.
Sadly after Broadhurst’s death, her designs were quickly forgotten. Wallpaper went out of fashion and so did the bold iconic designs for which she was known. Minimalism was in. For years her screens lay unused in a factory falling into decay. There were several times when all her designs were almost thrown away because they were deemed to expensive to even store. It wasn’t until the 1990s that her work was rediscovered, collected and restored. Luckily for us, her work was saved and is being produced by hand once again day by Signature Prints.
Florence and her crazy orange hair at her desk. On the wall is Peacocks, one of her favorite prints.
Many of her wallpaper prints were printed on gold and silver Mylar.
Japanese Floral, one of her most well-known prints.
This print was used for Kate Spade’s Florence Broadhurst collection (below).
A modern take on classic Broadhurst (above).
While a lot of her designs were organic and featured scenes of nature, many her designs were also bold and geometric.
Today her work can be seen on more than just wallpaper. Signature Prints, which owns the rights to Broadhurst’s collection now reproduces them on rugs, pillows, furniture and or course, wallpaper.
It’s amazing to see patterns designed in the 60s/70s and almost forgotten now used in such modern ways 40 plus years later.
She seems like quite the powerhouse person to know at the time. If you want to know more, pick up her book here or check out Signature Prints website about their collection featuring images, bios and videos all about Florence Broadhurst. I hope you enjoy her work as much as I continue to do so!