Toile (pronounced twahl) means cloth or canvas in French. Toile de Jouy or Toiles de Jouy are terms that refer to fabric although 'toile' alone has become synonymous with the material. It was first manufactured at a factory in Jouy-en-Josas, a village located southwest of Paris, near Versailles.
Founded in 1760 by German-born Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf (1738-1815), a textile entrepreneur. The factory site was chosen primarily because of its proximity to the clear running water of the Bièvre River. Oberkampf knew that water was a crucial element in the dyeing process. Only the highest quality goods were used in the production of the factory's printed fabrics made of cotton. This was a key reason for their success.
Toile is most commonly seen in the form of a cream or off-white fabric. Traditionally they feature detailed scenic motifs printed in a darker shade. Although, these colours can be reversed, with a light design against a dark backdrop.
Toile imagery is typically pastoral in nature. There's farmers at work on the land, couples strolling through the countryside or animals grazing. These designs are the repeated across the fabric.
Since their creation they have been seen on fabric for homes as well as clothing. The painterly prints have also since been reproduced on wallpaper.
Toile de Jouy fabric is a classic pattern that never really goes out of style and continues to be an interior design favourite. Two of the most popular are Les Oiseaux or Chateau de Loire. They both evoke romantic scenes of Provence, and how Marie-Antoinette saw the ‘idyllic’ lives of French peasants.
Toile de Jouy wallpaper is also extremely popular. The light yet detailed designs are just as much at home in town houses as they are in country cottages. They can add a romantic motif to bedrooms or a focal print in smaller rooms.
While Toiles may have a reputation for being purely traditional, they can sit well within contemporary interiors as well. Modern designs, which tend to favour more stylised motifs and bolder colours, can be used to create feature walls or as playful accents in the form of scatter cushions.