Boutique wallpaper and textile company The Vale London was founded in 2017 by Melinda Marquardt. After spending seven years in sales for an American textile company, she decided to start her own business – marrying an education in fine art with her industry experience. Each pattern is first drawn or painted by hand by Melinda, before being translated to fabric and wallpaper.
Her home, located just a a few short blocks from the Design Center at Chelsea Harbour and the Thames, is a bright and modern flat. Though she’s not an interior designer by trade, it’s a thoughtful space that highlights her creativity and talent. The Vale London’s official studio is downstairs, while the second floor serves as her private oasis in the busy city. She tells us more:
Hi Melinda! Where in London is your home it located?
I live in Fulham, which is a neighbourhood in southwest London. The building is located in a private cul-de-sac, so it’s extremely quiet for a London dwelling. I’ve been here for six years, and I love the location because it’s so close to everything I need. There are adorable little coffee shops, movie theatre, boutique clothing stores, and excellent family-owned restaurants. Fulham is like a quaint small village in the middle of London. It feels like an escape from the city whilst being central at the same time.
Tell us a bit about the design of the space. What were some of the main ways you needed it to function for you?
I actually purchased this Duplex off-plan and made a few changes to the architecture whilst building it to suit my needs. I loved that the apartment was split over two floors to allow for a work/living environment. Upstairs is my sanctuary, the bedroom, walk through wardrobe and bathroom. Downstairs is my open plan living and kitchen space with a sliding door to the office. When the workday is over, I just have to slide the door shut, and I’m home!
Though you’re not technically an interior designer, the space is very thoughtfully designed. We’d love to know more about the choices you made in the space.
The living area is my favourite part of the house. Linley designed the mirror in the corner of the room, and I adore the bright fractures of colour that make the room sparkle. These moments of colour tie into the rug in the same room designed by Fiona Curran from The Rug Company. I also installed my favourite Elitis wallpaper on the sliding door to my office that also contains the same bright colours as the mirror and rug. Everything else in the room remains neutral to keep the focus on these three key design pieces. In the bedroom, I wanted to feature my first ever design for The Vale London. I installed Lion Toile wallpaper along one side of the wall and kept the rest of the room neutral. On the other side of the room, I have featured photography that I took while in Chernobyl. I love large artwork pieces, and I think the graphic black and white photography ties in nicely with the hand-drawn elements in Lion Toile Wallpaper.
Speaking of your wallpaper, we’d love to know more about The Vale London! What is your background in the industry?
I started in the textile industry right after I graduated from Skidmore College in New York. I applied for a job in the Manhattan showroom at Fabricut and worked my way up to European Sales Manager. I had studied Fine Art with a focus in graphic design at Skidmore, and during my time at Fabricut, I had gotten away from my creative side. The design team at Fabricut invited me to design a Vervain pattern for the NY Botanical Garden, and I jumped at the chance. I fell in love with the process, reconnecting with my deeply creative side, and decided it was time to start my own boutique company. The Vale is now represented in all of the Fabricut corporate showrooms.
How is your line unique to the industry?
What makes The Vale special and unique in the industry is that every metre of fabric or wallpaper is a piece of art for the home. I design every pattern by hand, all originating as original artwork from watercolors in the Dutch style to shellac inks, graphite, and pen and ink. Once I feel the pattern is ready to be prototyped, I work intimately with the mills to ensure that no detail of the original artwork is lost in the final product. I only use the very best printers and weavers globally, and I also only purchase earth-friendly materials; 99% of our products are made from all-natural fibres.
In your bedroom, you have the Lion Toile. What does that design mean to you?
Whilst on holiday in Africa with my family, we spotted this majestic pride of lions in Tanzania. This one male lion looked straight at me, and I took the most magnificent photo of him that I later translated into a pen and ink hand drawing. That piece became the centerpiece of my very first pattern, the Lion Toile. Coincidentally the lion is the official symbol of the United Kingdom, which was not a detail that was obvious to me at the time. I chose to paper my bedroom in the pebble colorway to symbolize my first design, first collection, and the official launch of my new brand. He represents strength, resilience, and determination. I love the combination of the lion, the tranquil blues of the marbling detail and the intertwining floral elements, a balance of the masculine and feminine! Launching your own brand is a huge endeavor, and this lion serves as my constant inspiration.