The New Curtain Book” is a love affair, per se, a back-patting love affair of a book; one that lovingly strokes the egos of all involved in its creation. This isn’t a bad thing, however, because the book truly accomplishes what it has set out to do: highlighting the designers, discussing what’s important to them when creating window treatments, imparting to the reader a variety of ideas from different perspectives—all on the same topic.
This isn’t a book that will work well for consumers, however.
This is a book for those behind the scenes; the designers and specifiers.
So, if you are looking for a jumpstart on creativity, “The
New Curtain Book” may be a brilliant place to begin.
THE MASTER CLASSES
The book is divided into six categories: Classic, Simple, Dramatic,
Tailored, Country and Romantic. Author Stephanie Hoppen mentions
that she was struck by the “sheer professionalism” of
the designers she interviewed. While offering the caveat that she
has put each of the designers into one of these six classes, she
also offered that many of the designers can and do produce work
in any or all of them.
An introduction begins each section. For example, classic style
of the 21st century is defined as paying homage to legendary design
figures such as John Fowler, cofounder of Britain’s Colefax
& Fowler, who defined the English country home look; and designs
that employ grace and symmetry, strong colors and generous fabric.
Subsequent pages, then, delve into the design style of selected
First up is a fellow named Eldo Netto, who rose into prominence
when he acquired Cowton & Tout in 1978. Netto (as is each subsequent
designer) is featured in a small sidebar, along with short biographical
information; then is allowed a couple of pages to showcase his work
and discuss the featured style. For example, Netto shows the drawing
room of his apartment and a few bedroom draperies. He mentions that
he feels the most important factor in designing a classic treatment
Most of the other designers in subsequent “classes” are
treated in the same fashion. They include: Nina Campbell, Vincente
Wolf, Nancy Braithwaite, Jamie Drake, Jacques Garcia, Lars Bolander
and many more.
Other sections in the book include the beginning, “First Considerations,”
which discusses room styles and functions, window proportions and
designs, fabric textures, and patterns and headings. A Curtain Directory
at the back, a “tiny glimpse of the many amazing products now
available worldwide,” is a wonderful little tapas bar selection
of products, but certainly quite unsatisfying due to its size. Of
course, there is no way the multitude of products on the market
today could be covered well, but the tiny glimpse seems to be too
much of an afterthought.
WHAT IT LACKS
Surprisingly, there is little mention made of the manufacturers,
workrooms, people and companies behind the scenes that provided
the beautiful fabrics, finials and shades and workmanship to help
these designers achieve their goals. It’s as if these top designers
sat at their sewing machines and created these works of art from
beginning to end. A simple acknowledgement of the work and art of
others would have been, I feel, greatly appreciated by many. The
Directory of Sources does offer information on curtain makers and
fabric companies, but doesn’t pinpoint where their contributions
are shown within the book.
Additionally, the book is so entirely crammed with text and photos
that the delicate details and beautiful colors vie for attention
with the variety of type fonts and sizes, pull quotes, designers’
signatures and headshots and more. I found that if I dug and concentrated,
I did learn some interesting tidbits, but to me, some pieces of
information were pretty old-hat. “Whether a curtain fabric
is plain or patterned depends entirely on the room scheme,”
says designer John Stefanidis. OK . . . “I love luxury and
I think you should use plenty of fabric when making curtains—although
you can have too much of a good thing,” says Tessa Kennedy.
OK, again, not really a master-class kind of quote.
In breezing through reviews posted on book sellers’ Web sites,
readers were divided on the book—some were entirely inspired
by the lovely treatments, and others who had bought the book expecting
lessons on drapery design and making felt it hadn’t lived up
to the promise. If you are looking for inspiration from others and
how they are approaching the design of window treatments in the
21st century, then this book is for you.
Kathleen Stoehr is president of Chemistry Creative, based in Minneapolis,
MN. She is a former editor-in-chief of Window Fashions magazine and
is the author of the recently published Dream Floors, Hundreds of
Ideas for Every Type of Floor, available from Randall International.
Stoehr can be contacted for comments, queries and trend information