Made in Britain: Lewis & Wood

Lewis & Wood manufacture fabric and wallpaper.

lewis & wood

Stephen Lewis of Lewis & Wood.

After failing to persuade Stephen Lewis, owner and co-founder of the firm that’s famous for its wide-width wallpaper, to have a suit made out of one of his designs, we hit upon a different sartorial jackpot. ‘I’ve never had an opportunity to wear that green-corduroy suit that weighs about 3,000oz. It was a disastrous choice—fantastic for St Patrick’s Day in Boston and for no other occasion—except this photo shoot, in which it looks rather good against our Alhambra fabric and wallpaper.’

The company was founded in London 23 years ago with the interior designer Joanna Wood. Not long after, it moved to Gloucestershire and, in 2008, took over an old piano factory outside Stroud, where it manufactures much of its collection. ‘My background is in textiles,’ explains Stephen. ‘I spent some time in India when I was 18, then worked for the designer Zika Ascher, among others, before setting up on my own.’

Today, the company is known for its quintessentially English sense of provenance and individuality. Although Magdalen Jebb is the creative director, it has collaborated with different fields, including woodblock engraver Andrew Davidson, the muralist Adam Calkin and, most recently, the V&A. ‘We’re an independent company competing in a market that’s dominated by big brands, so we have to stand out for being eye-catching, unusual and authentic.’

The company’s largest overseas market is in America, where Stephen can be found ‘banging the drum’ at trade shows. ‘the Americans like the quaintness of our designs and, although it’s fair to say that they sit well in period houses, we shy away from describing ourselves as traditional. We’re a sort of benign dictatorship in that we make what we like and, so far, that seems to be working.’

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