In honor of National Tartan Day, Masculine Interiors talks to designer Scot Meacham Wood, a Ralph Lauren alum known for his liberal use of tartan.
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MI: In the early days of the site we did a popular post where tartan was mixed with punk rock posters. Tell us a bit how tartan can do highbrow as well as ironic and edgy.
SMW: I think the history of tartan plays well into its usage as both a highbrow fabric and also a more edgy motif. Tartan was clearly a huge part of high society in Scotland – and also in England during the reign of Victoria. The Victorians loved tartan! But prior to that it was a textile of rebellion – even to the point that the wearing of tartan was banned by the crown in the mid-1700s. Here in the States it has always had a more conservative and preppy aspect after being a significant part of so many school uniforms over the years. Any fabric with that rich of a history is bound to be incredibly flexible in its applications, both in fashion and in interiors.
MI: You’re a big exponent of it. What’s the appeal?
SMW: I’m asked this question fairly often, and you’d think by now I’d have a proper answer. These classic tartan fabrics always tick off several boxes whenever I see them. First, I love the history of the fabrics. Not just of rebellion and Scottish national pride, but their important use during the Victorian and Edwardian periods, which is kinda my sweet spot for furniture design and general aesthetics. Their flexibility can be somewhat endless. They offer a great balance of masculine – think military and politics – and feminine, and here I’m thinking windswept highlands and romance.
MI: How can tartan be used in a room? I’m seeing throw pillows, curtains, bedding, but there must be wallpaper, too. What does it bring to a room, as far as mood, vibe and taste go?
SMW: We’re always looking for a good mixture of patterns when putting together a room, and classic and even modern tartans very often fit the bill quite nicely. Their geometry is a natural complement to other more fluidly styled floral and botanical patterns, and also works well with solids and stripes.
You can go a bit more on the subtle side and use tartan for pillows and throws, or you could swing for the fences and use it more boldly on sofas or window treatments. We’ve done everything from wrapping a men’s library in upholstered custom tartan walls to using bright fuschia tartan in a ladies’ “card tournament room” for a showcase house.
If you’re a little hesitant of using tartan in your home, the holiday season is always a great time to trot some plaid out. The options are seemingly endless.
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