When the English decorator Robert Kime recently inaugurated his new fabric and furniture showroom at Chelsea Textiles in New York, he was given a royal welcome by the city’s design community. And why not? Kime, after all, is Prince Charles’s decorator of choice. He has decorated six houses for the Prince of Wales—including a redo of Clarence House, which reopens next year to the public—along with residences for a large swath of the British aristocracy.
But at the New York event, Kime, wearing a sports jacket and emerald-green tie, was characteristically understated about his lofty role as the reigning king of English classic decor. “I just love old textiles,” explains the former antiques dealer. “And when I couldn’t find enough of them anymore, I started my own fabric line.”
That was 35 years ago, when Kime began collaborating with his friend Gisella Milne-Watson on a collection of fabrics and papers based on archival textiles. Today, he works with his managing director, Orlando Atty, and designer Claire Jackson on a line of Robert Kime fabrics, wallpapers, lighting, and furniture. In addition to Chelsea Textiles in New York, the collection is available at Kime’s Ebury Street shop in London, as well as at Ainsworth-Noah in Atlanta and Jasper in Los Angeles.
This fall, Kime has launched 13 new fabrics and four new furniture designs. The patterns range from Swedish ticking to voiles to hand-screened silks, and three new digital designs. Kime says he embraced digital printing—which substantially lowers the cost of a fabric—about a decade ago. While the technology has advanced since then, he observes, “you have to work very hard to make them feel fresh.”
In all, Kime’s fabric line includes 213 document-based fabrics and 60 archived designs available for special order. Meanwhile, the public will be able to view his top-to-bottom redecoration of Clarence House—where many of the curtains and upholstery are in his fabrics—in 2020 when Prince Charles reopens the house for tours.