A few weeks before Christmas, I went to lunch at the Dickinson Gallery. What hung on the walls differed slightly from their usual offerings of fine art; instead, rugs were draped across every surface. The placing of rugs in a gallery is by no means new, as for many, rugs have been long considered as artwork for your floors. However, it has to be said that these particular rugs were exceptional. They were the culmination of months of work between Shame Studios and this month's Tete a Tat, interior designer Cindy Leveson.
Hector, co-founder of Shame Studios, was introduced to Cindy by a mutual client. Hector, a rug connoisseur, knows every inch of the rug industry but is still learning the ropes when it comes to the interior design business. So, whilst he might not have been clued up on the intricacies of Cindy's illustrious career, once he saw her magical watercolour illustrations on her Instagram, he was “blown away, especially where they showed impressions of traditional carpets”. From there, the match was lit, and they worked together to produce this awe-inspiring collection, 'Watercolour', where the formal structure of traditional carpets meets the freedom and expressiveness of water and pigment. Already, it has been widely celebrated, even reaching the cover of ‘Cover’ magazine; anyone in the rugs trade knows that that is a huge accolade.
Although the rugs are the most recent success in Cindy's career, it would be remiss not to acknowledge the previous thirty years. She has been a stalwart in the industry, creating interiors for iconic establishments such as the Goodwood Estate, a job which has spanned twenty years. Octavia Dickinson, a former employee of Cindy who now runs her own design studio, reminisces on the scale and detail of just a single project at Goodwood, “where we had to furnish a whole ten-bedroom house to feel like a shooting lodge that had been there for decades. We had to buy everything, from breakfast–in-bed trays to books, artwork, and the eiderdowns. We had such fun working on this together, and I always remember how clever she is mixing expensive and inexpensive fabrics and furniture, finding unique ways to get the look sometimes on a shoestring but always finding a way creatively”.
Cindy's impact extends beyond her design projects. Her support for suppliers and collaborators in the industry has been invaluable. Charlotte Freemantle, co-founder of Jamb, attests to Cindy's influence: "Certain clients are pivotal in one's business life and evolution...Cindy Leveson was one of those people,".
With insights from those who know her best, I'm honoured to introduce Cindy Leveson to you through Tete a Tat.
I think it has to be red but an expensive sort of red! There's a very good nail polish by Chanel called Pirate, which is the colour I carry in my head at all times.
Any good advice? Who gave it to you?
Many years ago - way before I became a decorator - my Father told me that every room should have a bit of black and a bit of tat. It's one of the best bits of advice I have ever been given.
The South of France with a glass of rosé looking towards Cap Ferrat makes me very happy.
Top Destination in the UK?
West Sussex is pretty perfect to me.
Favourite Tube Stop/ Line?
Awful to admit but I am not very good at Tube life but I think it's the yellow one.
If you could be a fly on the wall, where would you land?
At a lunch with David Hockney, talking about his painting.
What is your favourite day of the week?
Do you believe in ghosts?
Yes, although I've never actually seen one, but I feel them.
Who would you want to be stranded with on a deserted island?
That might be quite a long list but these are my essentials....my husband and my dog but.... I would need a builder to help with the DIY (my husband is not good at this), and a really good cook would be Heaven.
If money was no object, what would you do all day?
The odd lazy day and shopping without any form of guilt would be great, but I think there's only so much of that a girl can do, so I'm pretty sure I get up to all things arty and creative. Painting, drawing and a lot more tapestry and embroidery than I do at the moment would be a real treat.
If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?
I think the 1920s would have been a really exciting time for those lucky enough to have survived the war. So many new things are happening: hemlines are rising, new writers and artists are bursting out all over, and there is a marvellous feeling of hope.