de Gournay specialises in creating exquisite hand painted wallpaper, fabrics, porcelain and hand carved furniture.
Since 1986 de Gournay has revived ancient traditions, continuing techniques that began in the 18th century by employing a team of highly skilled artists to paint traditional Chinoiserie, Japanese and Korean and 19th century French Papiers Peints Panoramiques wallpapers. To complement the wallpapers, de Gournay’s artists also hand paint silk fabrics for upholstery and soft furnishings.
Claud Cecil Gurney decided to found the company following an unsuccessful search for expert artisans to restore the antique wallpaper in his family home, which highlighted that the traditional art of hand painting wallpaper was nearly completely abandoned.
The company is renowned for its original collection of striking 18th century Chinoiserie designs that bring spaces to life with colourful flora and fauna. Responding to demands for more contemporary wallpapers de Gournay later introduced its dramatic Japanese & Korean and Eclectic collections featuring stunning hand-gilded gold and silver paper-backed silk backgrounds. de Gournay also has a very popular collection of 19th century French scenic designs depicting a variety of vistas from a pastoral hunting scene in Chasse to an exotic Brazilian river-scene bursting with wildlife.
de Gournay sets itself apart through its ability to customise any of its designs in line with a client’s wishes. However complicated the brief, de Gournay has the knowledge and expertise to fulfil each individual’s vision: from hand-gilding a design with 22ct gold leaf, to creating a custom colour to compliment a surrounding interior.
The painstaking attention to detail coupled with highly skilled artisanship that is at the core of everything de Gournay designs and produces, has resulted in many high end collaborations. Fashion designers such as Matthew Williamson and Jenny Packham, esteemed brands Chanel and Smythson, and commercial projects with high end retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman and The Ritz, are among de Gournay’s recent partnerships.
Founder of de Gournay, Claud Cecil Gurney, comments:
“Our aim is to bring happiness into people’s lives by creating for them light, bright, vibrant and happy interiors where they can find refuge from the busy world of markets and events. Each of our interiors is a work of art hand-painted to meet the needs of discerning clients.”
Director of design and production at de Gournay, Dominic Evans Freke, comments:
“One of our great strengths is our spectacular range of striking and timeless designs we offer across a wide collection of products. I take great pride in the way in which we achieved this by sticking to our philosophy of understanding historic designs & their manufacture which guides us towards sensitive redesigns and updates of them for our modern consumers.”
de Gournay’s product offering also includes an expansive 18th century Chinese Export porcelain collection which is produced using traditional techniques that have resisted the forces of standardisation and modernisation that have affected European production and which date back hundreds of years. Each piece is entirely hand-carved, hand-glazed and hand-painted. The collection encompasses a number of different items varying from customised and intricately designed armorial dinner services to a pair of lifesize porcelain hounds, modelled on figurines from 1765.
In recent years de Gournay has continued to expand into hand-carved and hand-finished furniture and mirrors. Each piece of furniture is made using traditional wood and can be hand-finished in a number of ways to totally transform their mood and meet the demands of the most discerning client. As every item is created by hand, de Gournay’s furniture pieces can be customised to fit spaces and suit the necessities of the modern day.
De Gournay is now a global brand which has expanded into 39 countries, with showrooms in London, New York, Paris, Shanghai, Beijing and Moscow and representatives worldwide.
Profile of Hannah Cecil Gurney: Director of de Gournay
Hannah Cecil Gurney took an unconventional path to overseeing the development of her family’s hand painted wallpaper business. Her father Claud founded the company in 1986, as a result of being unable to find someone to restore an antique Chinoiserie paper in his family home. Starting the business was a natural progression for him having always harvested a very keen interest in the arts with a particular passion for Chinese history.
His daughter, Hannah graduated from Bristol University with a first class degree in Physics, before following her father’s advice, and his own early career path, and training as a chartered accountant at PriceWaterhouseCooper in London. After four years Hannah left to join her family business and continue its global expansion. Since 2012, she has overseen the opening of new showrooms in Paris, New York, Beijing and Shanghai. Her inimitable enthusiasm and drive, combined with a lifelong passion for her family business, is ensuring the company continues to grow and flourish.
Her involvement has propelled de Gournay into high profile collaborations with brands ranging from Chanel and Christian Dior, who have used the designs for advertising campaigns and windows at their flagship showrooms, to renowned fashion designers such as Jenny Packham and Misha Nonoo, who have used the hand painted silks to create haute couture. She has brought the brand into a more contemporary foray; with her direction de Gournay has continued to push the boundaries and has recently revealed innovative new techniques and contemporary colourways for reinterpreting classical 18th century chinoiserie and 19th century scenic designs with a modern twist, thus making them adaptable to contemporary interiors and widening the audience for de Gournay wallpapers.
Hannah Cecil Gurney comments: “My father could have made widgets, but he didn’t, he made exquisite hand painted wallpapers. How could I not have joined the family business? I wake up every day excited about my work. I am so lucky to get to work alongside my family, in particular my father who inspires me every day with his intelligence and never-ending energy.”
Hannah’s home is in London, where she lives with her husband of one year Edward Harden and her two dogs, Jiminy Cricket and Olaf. Hannah’s day to day is mostly spent in Europe, America or Asia overseeing each showroom, however when she is in the UK for a weekend she recuperates at her father’s home in Kent riding horses, one of her true passions, or walking her dogs in the Welsh mountains on her husband’s estate.