Coffee with... Neisha Crosland

21st March 2021
Neisha Crosland Textile DesignNeisha Crosland Textile Design

Sophisticated combinations of colour, often oversized graphic prints and an abundance of style with a dynamic edge have all become entwined with the name of Neisha Crosland.

Her love of decoration and natural eye for pattern sees her create fabrics and wallpapers that are elegant and intelligent, each with a beautiful sense of balance, proportion and personality.

Featured in high-end restaurants, hotels and private homes across the world, Neisha has collaborated with various designs houses including creating a wallpaper and fabric range with Christopher Farr and her new collection with Schumacher.

Other projects also include hand embroidery with Chelsea Textiles, vinyl flooring with Harvey Maria and rugs with The Rug Company.

Using shapes and forms found in nature as her inspiration, Neisha describes herself "a bit like a biologist who collects specimens. I collect ideas and motifs and classify them into designs".

An eclectic mix of florals, geometrics and trellis designs, each available in a variety of colourways, her collections are incredibly durable against changing trends and are a beautiful choice for any home.

Where do you look for inspiration when creating a new design?

Museums, books, films, architecture, travel, all the usual things… recently a wonderful book on tropical fruits! But I have found inspiration in everything from the checks on a fritillaria tulip and the shape of giant Gunnera leaves, to ferns, Ginkgo leaves, shells, malachite and coral. The photographer Horst P Horst’s book ‘Patterns from Nature’ and Karl Blossfeldt's ‘Art Forms in Nature’, Russian Avant Garde art, Ballet Russe, auction catalogues and something as mundane as a sweet wrapper or a painted drain pipe.

Karl Blossfeldt BookKarl Blossfeldt Book
Inspirational ArtInspirational Art

I do not think that I have ever gone out specifically on an inspiration hunt as picking up inspiration is second nature to any creative person. We have magpie instincts and an in-built radar that picks up on anything that might be inspirational to us. This happens very naturally by osmosis.

The problem today is we have such easy access to images of wonderful beautiful things that jump out at us from our screens. As we are glued to our phones it is so easy to take photos or screen grab something that takes your fancy. In the old days you had to have a camera or sketch book to record inspiration. Sometimes I have inspiration overload, so the editing is key.

Inspiration for my last collection which was for Schumacher came from a mix of things; Elizabethan bed hangings, 16th century Japanese kimonos and samurai armour to an East Persian Doroksh pictorial silk rug from 1890 and Mangosteen fruit.

The point of inspiration is an exciting moment, but the real challenge is how to then take it into the studio and turn it into a design. Sometimes I can have something pinned to my pin board, right under my nose for years, but it does not get to inform any design until years later.

You studied textiles at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, followed by an MA at the Royal College of Arts in London. When did you realise that textiles was the subject you wanted to specialise in?

I began painting and drawing from an early age and it made me look closely at things. Despite my fine art instincts, I didn’t think I’d make a career out of it, so a graphics course was my best bet and I enrolled at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts - which was very fine art biased with lots of drawing - to study graphics.

However my ‘eureka moment’, which led me to study textiles, was at the age of 22 when I took a wrong turn at the V&A and got lost in the Ottoman Empire textile gallery, finding myself surrounded by beautiful bold 15th and 16th century fabrics. Dots, crescents, tulip heads, repeating on and on, reproduced in different colourways, using different techniques: looking every bit as modern as the Russian Avant-Garde artists I so loved.

I knew instantly that I’d made a mistake and that I should be studying textiles so did a U-turn, missed my lecture and went directly to the Principle to ask for a switch to textiles!

Neisha Crosland Zebra VelvetNeisha Crosland Zebra Velvet

It's hard to choose a favourite, but is there a design that has a special significance to you?

I have picked two.

ZEBRA: a geometric that I did in 1997 for a velvet devore scarf it still sells today as a cut velvet and pigment print on wallpaper and fabric.

A project at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, set by a tutor was invaluable. He gave us a small oblong 2cm x 10cm piece of lino into which we cut simple marks. He then told us to spend the next week printing with it.

It taught me how one simple shape could create many different complex patterns simply by changing sequences, spaces and colour - the blank spaces held as much interest to me as the printed shapes. This design is in fact now produced by Christopher Farr and it is called Drum.

This was the beginning of an ongoing interest in simple, one colour prints - 40 years later I realise that this project was a key moment and the precursor to one of my best sellers Zebra.

It is never for me one sole thing, but instead a chain of events that contribute to the creating of a design. I was introduced to the Russian Avant Garde painters of the early 20th century by my stepfather, and it was in particular the paintings of Povova that impressed me for their dynamism. 

The energy of the thrusting, jutting and jostling angles she painted were so powerful and apparently chaotic, yet so purposeful. Every line felt in its right place. That's what I wanted to achieve with Zebra.

CULPEPER: a wallpaper design of wild flowers, surface printed in chalky white on soft red clay, white on white and gold on gold that holds fond memories of my grandfather and our Indian heritage. On a trip to India, a lasting memory was how wild flowers were used as decorative motifs. They adorned all the palaces and forts: the Taj Mahal, Rang Mahal harem, the Red Fort and Agra Fort.

They were carved into marble, ivory, Neelam stone and Pietra dura. They were laid in intarsia with gem stones and bits of mirror, painted onto walls and ceilings with glistening golds. Peonies, Irises, Marguerites, Desert Anemones, Marigolds, Roses, Oxalis Lilies, Dahlias, Sweet William, Brittle Brush, Indian Paintbox Flowers, Bougainvillea, Tulips, and Narcissi. Bejewelled and twinkling on milky inlaid marble, glittering in gold leaf or cut into stone, there were so many media in which these flowers were used. I loved these Moghul delights.

Neisha Crosland CulpeperNeisha Crosland Culpeper
Neisha Crosland FabricNeisha Crosland Fabric
Neisha Crosland WallpaperNeisha Crosland Wallpaper

We had uncovered the Indian heritage of my deceased grandfather just before my trip to India so he was very much on my mind. He had a wonderful library and when I was 9 years old, I discovered an old edition of the 17th Century Culpeper’s Complete Herbal book. The plants had extraordinary onomatopoeic, witchy names such as flea-wort, toad flax, dragons, ragwort, lungwort, herb true love, viper’s bugloss. 

Each plant was given a description of what it looked like, the place where it grew, a time when it flowered and seeded as well as a government - that is what planet it was governed by - and a virtue – that is the consequential healing properties attached to it - as well as instructions on how to administer and prepare it.

I was fascinated by the engravings of these numerous British herbs and plants and the magnifying advantage of my myopic eyes meant that I could see every finely-etched line with great clarity. I spent hours copying them!

Neisha CroslandNeisha Crosland

How would you characterise your own homes interior style?

The garden is what makes our house. It is an oasis not far from Clapham Junction - all sides look out onto the courtyard garden - we have French windows and crittall doors which are smothered in vine and wisteria in the summer. There is lawn lined with Quercus ilex trees and the mews walls evergreen Jasmine with Parottica Persica Espalier.

The interior has taken inspiration from many things, like a farm house in Puglia to Madeleine Castaing. I like to think it is comfortable and finished with nice details. The style feels like it could be in Paris or Brussels.

Neisha Crosland Fabric DesignerNeisha Crosland Fabric Designer

How did your collaboration with Schumacher come about?

The owner of one the mills that I had been working with for years came to see me with his agent on a routine visit. He was struck by the amount of designs that I had hanging up on the studio walls, not yet produced.

He also spotted my newly published book ‘Life of a Pattern‘ which he took back with him. The following week, I was on a train to the mill to discuss developing new designs which he showed to Schumacher. As a result, the Espalier collection of weaves, prints, wallpapers and trimmings were launched.

Schumacher Interior DesignSchumacher Interior Design
Schumacher Sofa Fabric UpholsterySchumacher Sofa Fabric Upholstery
Schumacher Upholstery FabricSchumacher Upholstery Fabric
Neisha Crosland Zebra FabricNeisha Crosland Zebra Fabric


Schumacher produce fantastic fabrics and papers and trimmings in so many varied textile production techniques. We work with many of the same mills and printers but Schumacher has access to so many more than I have ever worked with.

I love that they are very active in digital media and marketing but also have their own printed magazine. They have a young fresh dynamic energy that is exciting. What is more they are opening a showroom in London Chelsea Harbour this March, where the collection will launch.

What single item of furniture could you not live without?

My swan lake lamps that I bought from Charles Saunders in London about 10 years ago. The base is wooden, 1940's Italian, and the lampshades I found separately. My living room would be nothing without them.

What book is on your bedside table right now?

House of Glass by Hadley Freeman.

The story and secrets of a twentieth-century Jewish family - it cleverly articulates the family’s experiences going back to the polish pogroms up to today, and how it has resonated and effected following generations. It is beautifully written and is really well researched.

If you didn’t live in London, where in the world would you like to live?

My husband is French so we would like to be in France – near the Pyrenees mountains because you have the Atlantic on one side, the Mediterranean sea on the other, and then the Mountains with Spain at reach on the other side.

The countryside is fairly empty and l Iike this. There is also has a wonderful light there.

Who are your favourite interior designers?

Charlotte Crosland my sister - she has an amazing ability to use pattern. She also focusses on sensible comfort and cosiness and brilliant joinery. She knows how to make a home.

India Mahdavi has used my two classic designs, Zebra and Hollywood Grape, with stunning effect in hotels and even designed a sofa for Hollywood Grape.

Robert Kime for his relaxed country house grand but not too grand look.

David Mlinaric for his modern chic.

Madeleine Castaing (1894 -1992) the French decorator. I remember her little shop or salon on Rue Bonaparte when I was a young student and bumping into Mario Testino there. I like the colours she used and the way she got away with mixing leopard skin carpets with bird ‘s egg blue walls, unusual marble and gold taps without it ever looking flashy. It had a sort of bohemian grand chic.

Syrie Maugham for her brave huge scale geometric rugs, mixed with sofas edged with tufted trim.

Commercial Fabric Neisha CroslandCommercial Fabric Neisha Crosland
Neisha Crosland Upholstery Fabric ZebraNeisha Crosland Upholstery Fabric Zebra

What can we expect from Neisha Crosland this year?

Collections take a long time to develop and Covid has delayed a lot of things. March signals the launch of my Espalier collection with Schumacher about 3 years in the making. it will be part of the unveiling of their new showroom.

On the drawing board I am working on a new collection of fabric designs and papers but not sure yet who will be producing those. I am also working on an exhibition to follow on from Portrait of Pattern of November 2019.

What do you most like about F&P Interiors?

It really does showcase the best brands and keeps anybody who is interested in interiors inspired and up to date with what is new.

Upholstery Fabric Neisha CroslandUpholstery Fabric Neisha Crosland

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Neisha Crosland Book: Life of Pattern

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