Paul Simmons, Co-Founder of Timorous Beasties, talks about how he and fellow Co-Founder Alistair McAuley have brought their irreverent and sustainable style to the world of fabrics and wallpapers.

Chinoiserie collection by Timorous Beasties

Tell us about your design background and the history of the brand.

We graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1988, Alistair did a post grad in Glasgow and I went to the RCA in London. We started Timorous Beasties in 1990 – we wanted the freedom to draw, experiment, play with colour and really explore pattern. We felt the only way to do that was to establish our own studio.  We both had a great passion for drawing, printed textiles and have always had a shared attitude. The creative scene in Glasgow in the early 90s was great too and we felt very much part of that. Also, the type of designs we were creating, which had their origins in historical textiles but also steeped in modernity, were, and still are, unconventional and disruptive. It struck a chord and quite quickly, we were off.

Epic Botanic – Aventurine by Timorous Beasties

What does Timorous Beasties represent as a design company?

We represent a company that puts innovation at the forefront of what we do, both in terms of aesthetics and the processes we use.  We like to challenge preconceptions of what pattern and decoration can be.

How do you continue to innovative in the industry?

We have the freedom to be ourselves – we don’t follow trends or have conventions holding us back.

Temples in the Sky by Timorous Beasties

What has been your most successful milestone to date?

There have been quite a few over the years but we would say being very involved in Glasgow as the City of Art and Architecture in 1999 was an early milestone for us. Also, opening our first store in 2004. In 2005 we were awarded Designer of the Year and in 2006 we opened our showroom in Clerkenwell in London. Having the stores in Glasgow and London really changed the dynamic of the brand and gave international clients, both domestic and trade, a lot of confidence in us.

Shuiping de Pilment by Timorous Beasties

How do you tackle issues surrounding sustainability in the interior design industry in your own studio and processes?

There are many levels to how we tackle sustainability – our designs are printed to order to minimise waste. The fabric base cloth suppliers we use are small, independent, UK based manufacturers. The wallpapers we print on are made from sustainable forest paper, which is the most eco friendly that you can currently get. We work with an energy specialist to advise on high level solutions to improve the energy usage in the design, manufacturing and warehousing departments of our Glasgow headquarters. We are also currently drawing up a Net Zero policy and undergoing a course to help the company on its Net Zero journey, part of the Scottish Enterprise Net Zero Academy.

Epic Botanic – Flaming Sapphire by Timorous Beasties

What are you focused on for 2024?

We have a very busy year ahead; we are exhibiting ‘Toile Tales’ at Musée de la Toile de Jouy, just outside Paris, including a special display of new toiles to accompany a series of written tales from 9th February – 19th May.  We are also opening two new showrooms, one in Edinburgh and one in London in the Spring, as well as an exciting new collection launch.

What does the company aspire to look like in 20 years time?

More chic and more irreverent than we are already! | IG: @timorous_beasties


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