WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT: HELEN CORMACK & TISSUS D’HELENE






There are moments in life when you meet someone and you immediately know they are special. Meeting Helen Cormack was one of them. I met Helen back in 2008 at  Tissus d’Hélène, her fabric and wallpaper boutique showroom in London’s Chelsea Harbour Design Centre, when I was moving into Interior Design.

Helen is an all-round fabulous lady with rolls of experience and expertise in her field, lengths of personality and charm, yards of style (she has a rather dazzling collection of eclectic jewellery), and swatch-loads of enviable spirit of generosity (she invariably gives up her time and effort to support the trade or new kids on the block).
I remember vividly our first chat à propos de French culture (Helen was educated at London’s prestigious Lyçée français and is bilingual), Toile de Jouy (she is an 18th C French textiles enthusiast), interior decoration (or “desecration in some cases”) and of course green and blue (our favourite colour combination). After that passionate and bonding encounter, she offered me a 10-day work experience which turned into a whole year. Talk about being at the right place at the right time. Since then, every time I go back to this treasure trove of decor, it is like ‘going home’.




Her beautifully decorated space has a unique, warm and welcoming atmosphere which is so representative of Helen and her equally fantastic team. Tissus d’Hélène ‘s incredible array of artisanal fabrics and wallpapers from 45-odd carefully selected companies from all around the world attracts not only budding decorators and design connoisseurs but also an impressive coterie of famed interior designers who have  followed her over the years and made Tissus one of their ‘destination’ sources of inspiration and sometimes the place for them to sell their collections in the UK.
She has made for herself a great reputation over the years and I have yet to find a recent past issue of The World of Interiors or House and Garden that does not feature at least one of her products.

I owe my chère amie a huge debt of gratitude for introducing me to the fascinating world of interior decoration and also for giving A-Gent of Style his first ‘intimate’ interview to date.




THE INTERVIEW


Can you tell us about your career in textiles?


In 1984, I joined a small interior decorating firm in Mayfair where I worked for about 6 years. During my time there, I realised that I was really passionate about textiles. I took a job at Percheron, one of my two favourite [fabric] showrooms, and worked for Charles Hamer for 6 years. Then around 1997, Adam Sykes offered me a job at Claremont [another high-end fabric company]. I have been so lucky to work with two people from whom I’ve learned an enormous amount, as well as working with my most of my favourite fabric collections such as Burger, Georges Le Manach and Fortuny. But then I left Claremont in November 2005


How did Tissus d’Hélène come about?

In May 2006, with tremendous help from Nina Campbell [a leading English designer], I opened Tissus d’Hélène. I have always adored prints and decided to specialise in them. Nina offered me Galbraith & Paul and Quadrille [both fabric & wallpaper companies in the States] and Tissus has evolved since then. We now have a large number of companies from the UK, France, Italy and America. I have concentrated on small printers and weavers and feel very strongly that we must do all we can to preserve artisanal trades. My latest acquisition, thanks to Adam Sykes, is the Adelphi Wallpaper Co from America, which produces the most exquisite hand-blocked wallpapers and borders. I also have a new range of hand-weaves from Bhutan, which are woven from wild silk or wild nettle; they are very beautiful indeed. Two new gorgeous hand-block collections have just arrived as well, both the creations of English designers, but printed in India


Tissus d'Hélène window inside the Design Centre

Tissus d’Hélène window inside the Design Centre, March 2013


How did you discover fabrics?

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ON THE ROAD



Inspiring designs around the pavements by my flat

QUOTE OF THE WEEK



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