Every October, to celebrate the autumn fabric launches, the House & Garden decoration team produce their largest feature of the year, involving upwards of 80 fabrics, an ambitious concept, and frequently an adventurous location shoot to go along with it. Past years have seen our intrepid stylists sporting wheaten headdresses and pagan costumes on the Mull of Kintyre, wrangling showjumping horses and synchronised swimmers, driving a car up an Umbrian staircase, and dressing themselves up as lamps. This year, however, perhaps to the relief of all those involved, the adventures are all on the page, as our October issue (out now) recounts real and imagined episodes from the life of Sir John Soane in a series of ingenious dioramas by the artist Ed Kluz.
When Gabby Deeming and Ruth Sleightholme of our decoration team decided on a shoot involving paper pop-ups and dioramas, and settled on the renowned 18th-century architect Soane as a subject, their first choice to make them was Ed Kluz, an artist with a deep interest in classical architecture and historic buildings. The playful nature of the shoot made it a particularly good fit for Ed, who is drawn to the fanciful and eccentric side of architectural history–extravagant structures, designs that were never carried through, buildings that ‘capture the spirit of their age.’ His paper collages, drawings and prints, which have been exhibited throughout the UK, conjure up everything from frivolous follies to lost masterpieces.
For this shoot, Ed was called on to work in 3D, using scaled down images of the fabrics printed onto paper to create precise forms, clever renderings of perspective, and intricate combinations of colour and pattern. “It was a very meticulous, very long process, but it’s amazing what you can do with cutting, folding and scoring.” The images had to be simple and formed from relatively straightforward shapes, so that the patterns on the fabrics would be visible. This made some of the vignettes difficult–”how do you render a full length figure in fancy dress with a convincing portrait of Sir John Soane?!”
Ed’s next exhibition, ‘Façades’, a show devoted to ‘designs for pageantry, celebration and pleasure’ is about to open at Mayfair’s John Martin Gallery, and features spectacular collages of the temporary triumphal arches that were designed for the coronation celebrations of James I in 1604 (above), of Sir Christopher Wren’s abandoned palace for Charles II at Winchester, and of Inigo Jones’ plans for a new palace at Whitehall. You can see the full spread of Ed’s dioramas for House & Garden in the October issue, out now.