30 September 2010

Unfolding Florence

About a year ago, I saw a wonderful documentary directed by Gillian Armstrong called Unfolding Florence. It is a docudrama about the life of designer Florence Broadhurst, who's career has often been overshadowed by her untimely murder. In the last decade, however, people like Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney, and Carly Simon began collecting Broadhurst's prints. After seeing the film, I wanted to see it again, but alas, it is not available in the US (though a DVD is available for Region 4 if you own a multi-format player.)

Broadhurst was far ahead of her time in her designs and how she constructed her wallpaper. Her designs were all hand printed in her studio, which was as technical as it was artistic. She developed a process to print onto metallic surfaces, she developed a washable coating, and instituted a racking system that allowed for drying her wallpapers so they could be mass produced. In addition, she allowed her designs to be reproduced in a myriad of colors.

Florence Broadhurst, Joshua Smith,1968

Broadhurst wanted her designs to be a cure for a disease she called, “ timid decorator syndrome." "You can spot them easily, they are afraid of colour and bold design, she said.”

In 2006, Helen O'Neill published Florence Broadhurst: Her Secret and Extraordinary Life. Apart from the biographical information which is quite fascinating, O'Neill's book also reproduced nearly a hundred of Broadhurst's designs which only a few people had ever seen in one place.

Here are just a few Broadhurst favorites!

The Egrets

Japanese Flora


Horses Stampede

Circles and Squares

Recently, the Australian rug manufacturer, Cadrys, has licensed a collection featuring the iconic designs of Florence Broadhurst. If you ever get the chance to see Unfolding Florence, give it a look.


  1. this looks wonderful, another find from Lucinda. what a too true quote! pgt

  2. Gillian Anderson is brilliant (her Starstruck is a favourite of mine). Like the MB cookbook, this too is a must get.

  3. Thanks for the interesting
    I love the Egrets.


  4. I must be a distant relative of Flora's. Bold and Bright are my signature.


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