DOROTHEA DERRICK has always loved beautiful European textiles. She recalls being surrounded by bolts of fabric and her mother, a dress maker, always sewing gorgeous clothes on the kitchen table. Even as she developed a career in sales and marketing for research companies, the love of fabrics never left her. And perhaps this played some part in the allure of the man that became her husband. David Briscoe worked for a textile clothing business and it was their combined love of fabrics that brought them together.
In 1998, Dorothea and David travelled to Europe for a holiday with the idea to establish their own business at the forefront of their mind. They returned with several product samples and together, established Importico Home & Gifts from their base in Auckland, New Zealand.
Annual trips to Europe in January are now part of their routine. With several trade fairs occurring during the northern winter, Dorothea says her favourite fair is Maison & Objet Paris. And why wouldn’t it be?
“Paris is so beautiful. It’s a huge trade fair but we are focused in what we do. You see lots of gorgeous amazing things,” she says. “We look for new trends and new suppliers, anything new and different that is not in our market that is a point of difference. We have to cover quite a bit of ground because our suppliers are at different trade fairs.”
The range of products supplied by Importico has evolved over the years. The business now focuses on table and bed linen and a luxurious range of cushions that have proved to be very popular with home owners.
“We are strictly European which means that the cost is a little bit higher because the design and quality is really high which people appreciate.”
Derrick says the standout range for her is Voyage Maison from Scotland in the UK.
“The cushions are really quite stunning,” she says when she describes her visit to the Glasgow factory to see how the artwork and cushions are made. “It was fascinating to see how the process works. They have a team of five trained artists and they paint all day and create these gorgeous designs. Once the designs are finalised they have these in-house digital printers that are worth a fortune, and they print directly onto linen and beautiful velvet fabrics.”
The cushions are trimmed with pom poms or wool edging and have beautifully coordinated backings of wool, tweed, velvet or linen.
“We actually call them works of art.”
Derrick says the cushions are of such enduring quality and beauty that she believes they will get passed down the generations because people fall in love with them.
Her other favourite company is Apelt based in Baden-Baden in southern Germany. Established in 1951, Derrick says the family-owned company produce digitally printed fabrics for cushions and linen products with designs that are less traditional and more edgy.
“We really do try to do something different from the rest of the pack. We have a good mix of products including throws with beautiful, classic designs that are woven in the UK.”
She notes a growing trend for designs that incorporate animals. Linen tea towels with images of chooks, ducks, farm animals and dogs in particular are very popular. “Some people will even frame our tea towels and put them in kitchens,” she says.
“I feel proud that we have survived the test of time. The key to success for us is that we have always been ready to change and do new things and maintain a close relationship our customers.”
Visit Importico Home & Gifts at Decor + Design at stand H37.