Venture is looking very good on paper
DESIGNER wallpaper inspired by Staffordshire's history is drawing interest from all over the world.
High House, a new interior design company set up by Staffordshire University lecturers, students and graduates, launched its debut collection in London at the weekend.
The firm fielded inquiries from Russia, Norway and France at the Tent London design trade show.
Its debut designs were inspired by wallpaper fragments discovered during the restoration of the Ancient High House in Stafford and future collections are likely to draw on the heritage of Stoke-on-Trent.
The university received a grant from the Higher Education Innovation Fund to set up High House.
The venture is made up of project manager Kay Dawson, lecturers Dom Marshall and Lisa Wolfe, Foundation Degree students Fran Massey and Lisa Mynett, Surface Pattern Design graduates Rosy de Beer and Anna Drezova and period wallpaper specialist Rowena Beighton-Dykes.
Kay said: "The launch was absolutely brilliant. You Magazine are going to be featuring us this Sunday, and we had World of Interiors taking pictures and videos. We had lots of inquiries from all over the place – Russia, Norway, and a shop in Paris.
"Because it's a university project, everyone thought it was really great that we are involving the students, but we are supporting graduates as well.
"Each wallpaper has got quite a story to it, and people liked the 'Englishness' of it – that's not something we set out to do, but it's quite nice."
The company's name and its first designs have been inspired by the Ancient High House in Stafford, which was built in around 1595 for the wealthy Dorrington family.
The ornate building, the largest remaining timber-framed town house in England, played host to King Charles I in 1642 and is now preserved as a museum.
Kay said: "We chose the Ancient High House as inspiration for the debut collection as it is famous for the wallpaper that was discovered there and it's in Stafford, so it's our heritage.
"We have future plans for new collections which will all have an historical theme; it's heritage with a twist. Our next collection will be based on Stoke-on-Trent."
The debut designs include the Town Garden collection, based on the flowers found in Stafford's town and cottage gardens and Greengate, which is named after Stafford's main street and features scenes from daily life, as well as the Ancient High House.
There is also Dorrington, featuring the company's interpretation of patterned wallpaper fragments uncovered during the High House's restoration, and Carpenter, inspired by the craftsmanship of its construction.
High House is hoping to emulate the success of fellow Staffordshire University company Flux, which was set up by ceramic design course director Professor David Sanderson in 2010 to showcase the designs of his students and graduates.
Sentinel Business reported in April that the firm had clocked up orders approaching £100,000.
Flux also exhibited its latest designs at Tent London, which takes place every September as part of London Design Festival and showcases hundreds of designs to more than 19,000 international trade buyers.
Kay said it was a "phenomenal" platform to launch High House's debut collection.
She added: "The aim for us is to become a proper commercial business.
"If we do well, we can spin out like Flux has done."
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