As part of Salone del Mobile 2022, London-based furniture and homewares designer Bethan Gray has reimagined her iconic Dhow pattern for a new age, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the hypnotic lines across inspired new pieces. On display at Rossana Orlandi’s eponymous gallery in Milan’s Magenta district, the installation of furniture, textiles, rugs, hand-blown glass and ceramics showcases the exquisite craftsmanship and innovative techniques that Bethan has imbued into each and every item.
Titled Inky Dhow, the collection has naturally followed on from the designer’s original Dhow series of drawings, first imagined on a trip to Oman where she was transfixed by the sails of the dhow boats as they rippled in the wind on their passage out to the Arabian Sea. The billowing movement formed the catalyst for Bethan’s interpretation, which was applied as an intricate marquetry pattern by Muscat-based master craftsman Mohammad Reza Shamsian and his team of skilled artisans. The 16th century marquetry techniques, combined with cutting-edge technology, has allowed Bethan to translate the feeling of movement into her latest collection.
Bethan Gray launches Inky Dhow universe during 2022 Milan Design Week
It was during last year’s lockdown that Bethan became restless, needing to reconnect with the physical, meditative art of making. She began experimenting with calligraphy brushes, honing her technique with the cobalt-hued ink, remembering the movement of the sails, both fluid and robust. Thus, Inky Dhow was born. Searching for canvases on which to translate Inky Dhow, she first collaborated with Bill Amberg to create a leather hide, hand painting the entire skin to ensure no quality of resolution was lost during the digital printing process. Inky Dhow also inspired Emily Johnson, founder of 1992 Ltd, who invited Bethan to reproduce the pattern onto a collection of hand-thrown earthenware vases, again, each hand-painted by the designer to create a limited run of unique pieces named the Seven Sisters.
These painterly objects will feature at Rossana Orlandi Gallery, alongside Bethan’s new ‘Ripple’ sofa and armchair, both upholstered in Bill Amberg leather with a contemporary profile that evokes the billowing of the dhow sails with luxe gold finishes. Bethan’s distinctive cabinetry and furniture pieces have been expertly finished with marquetry across the Shamsian collection that features a three-door cabinet, ‘Lustre’ coffee and side tables and bar cabinet, each accented by gold footing. But it is the translation of Inky Dhow into Bethan’s latest collection with Milan-based rug company CC-Tapis, where the pattern has been woven masterfully into silk and wool, that the ultramarine lines become truly hypnotising in their application.
Included in the Salone installation, Inky Dhow takes its final form in a selection of hand-blown Murano glass lights, crafted in partnership with Baroncelli. The pieces are a celebration of time-honoured techniques, reimagined through a modern lens and executed by Bethan’s boundless imagination. “Using different craft techniques has allowed Inky Dhow to grow into many things,” Bethan says. “But the most exciting thing is that while they all work as stand-alone pieces, they also harmonise beautifully together.”
Inky Dhow is available online now, and is on display at Rossana Orlandi Gallery from 7-12 June as part of this year’s Salone del Mobile in Milan.
Using different craft techniques has allowed Inky Dhow to grow into many things, but the most exciting thing is that while they all work as stand-alone pieces, they also harmonise beautifully together.
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