Coffee with... Liberty Interiors Genevieve Bennett

19th July 2022

Liberty Fabrics is a design institution renowned worldwide for it's 50,000 strong print archive. Blending the old with the new they also have an in-house studio where new artworks are drawn and painted by hand. Head of Design Genevieve Bennett has recently launched her second collection at the helm of the brand - The Modern Collector. We caught up with her about life at Liberty Fabrics and what is next for this iconic British brand.

What first inspired you to study printed and embroidered textiles? 

I studied Embroidery and weave at Glasgow School of art, then Mixed Media Textiles – at the Royal College of Art graduating in 2000. I was drawn to both these courses due to their multi-media approach. I have always loved working in a variety of techniques – mixing surfaces and processes and these courses gave me access to all of the facilities in both colleges. I would be in the dye lab one day, on the print table the next then in the embroidery studio the day after that! It was a wonderful introduction to exploring colour, surface and pattern. 

What does it mean to you to be working with such an iconic British brand like Liberty’s? 

I have always adored Liberty – from visiting the iconic store andbuying the fabrics since I was small. My family had a silk business when I was growing up (Bennett Silks) and so was always surrounded by fabrics and colour – and I was always making things out of plain silk scraps and remnants which I used to mix with Liberty florals.

So in short it feels like a huge privilege! After working in the industry for 22 years with a wide variety of brands around the world I would definitely say the Liberty has always been the top of my list – so it is my dream job. I would also say that one of the most exciting things for me is working alongside designers on the fabric team such as Polly Mason – head of design for fashion fabrics, and Anna Buruma our archivist who have been there for a very long time – who have such incredible knowledge of the brand and archive is very exciting and I am learning every day. Liberty is such an eclectic brand – with such a wide variety of styles – from Liberty Classic florals, Art Nouveau, Arts and Crafts, Paisleys, to contemporary pattern and geometrics so as a pattern lover it is incredibly inspiring.  

We are loving the new outdoor fabrics that Liberty launched this year, what can we expect next from this trend setting brand? 

The Liberty Garden outdoor collection was a fantastic project which gave us the scope to explore playful and eclectic combinations of designs and techniques. Supernatural botanicals and boldly-scaled florals sit alongside simple geometrics, stripes and plains – We had lots of fun developing new techniques and mixing chunky textures  with beautiful classic Liberty prints – all scaled especially for outdoor use, on beautiful high-performance bases.  

We are especially excited about exploring unique vibrant natural colour, mixes of texture and technique and developing new unique designs as well as archive adaptations.  2023 will see the launch of several collections – a new wallpaper collection, very special collaborations and a mixed collection of prints, weaves and other beautiful fabric techniques later in the year.  

Liberty are celebrated for their prominent use of colour and pattern, what are your top tips for mixing patterns into your interiors? 

I love to create spaces which celebrate colour and pattern but really allow the fabric or wallpaper to come alive and have longevity and liveability. I often like to choose a small colour detail in a fabric and use this as the inspiration for solid fields of complimentary colour for plain fabrics or painted walls. Offsetting a much-loved pattern against solid fields of colour in this wayshelps provide a perfect background /canvas for the fabrics which is both surprising, liveable and truly unique.  
Coordinating pattern - I love to mix pattern scales with my choice of fabrics in a room. Selecting a bold large-scale design and offsetting against a much small-scale fabric within the same colour palette can be a nice way to balance and create beautiful coherent schemes. 

LIberty Fabrics Sofa FurnitureLIberty Fabrics Sofa Furniture
Green Fabric LibertysGreen Fabric Libertys

You have designed an extensive range of products in your career from fabrics to electronics, do you have a favourite product you like to work with? 

I get huge excitement and satisfaction seeing designs transformed into finished product no matter the technique or form. I think this is actually the most amazing part of my job… There is a kind of alchemy to the process which is wonderful! I love the depth of work that is necessary to design fabric collections to be used for upholstery and drapery – they require extreme attention to detail and production knowledge. They also need to last for a very long time so there is a certain rigour to this which is exciting. 
On the flipside I do love designing cushions and rugs – mixing techniques and materials - I see them like the jewellery of an interior – used to accessorise an interior in an exuberant, fun and more playful way. 

How would you describe your home interior style? 

My home is quite pared back as I find I crave calm and simple spaces after working with pattern all day! 

It has a light, modern feel with some much loved classics in terms of furniture, peppered with eclectic treasures – I collect scarves, Japanese vintage textiles and bold geometric prints which I display on the walls. 

Where would be your number one holiday destination and why?

I stayed in an old hunting lodge called Savista in a remote part of Rajasthan a few years ago on a work trip. It was incredibly peaceful and beautiful and run by the most amazing and inspiring couple. I then returned 6 months later for a holiday and often think about going back.  

I imagine you have a pretty hectic work schedule, if you had the time to learn a new hobby what would you like to try? 

I have always loved ceramics and would love to some day learn to make my own. I love applying pattern to 3d form and think this could be an exciting project to explore! 

Pot Throwing Make CeramicsPot Throwing Make Ceramics

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