The glistening russet and gold of embroidered Asian textiles has inspired western interiors for half a century, particularly the suzani. Interior designers and home owners alike have fallen for the charm of these exquisite and ancient tribal works of art, leading to a mass design resurgence. Not only do they have a fascinating history, but the antique suzani is becoming more collectable. Plus, their distinctive style is often recreated by contemporary designers of prints and weaves.
What is a suzani?
Suzanis are exquisitely embroidered cloths hailing from Uzbekistan. The word suzani is Persian and translates as needle – and this is needlework of the highest order. From designs of dramatic black and red sun disks to flower heads, stars, trailing plants, sinuous vines, fruit, and perhaps a bird or water carrier, each is stitched in a palette of colours that is bold yet gloriously harmonious. ‘It was the colour that struck me when I first saw an antique suzani,’ says dealer Susan Deliss, ‘but it was also the romance they carry from the women who work them by hand in Uzbekistan. It is still such a remote and mysterious country.’
It’s not difficult to carry this far-off romance into your own home either. With these six easy ways to combine suzanis with your existing decor, you’ll find yourself amid a wealth of historic colour and pattern.
Napkins in modern suzani fabric make for a fresh look and stylish contrast to older, antique pieces
Use a vintage suzani as a lavish tablecloth or a wall hanging. Set it against a cool blue-grey background to really make the coloured embroidery sing
A mismatched collection of chairs upholstered in suzani fabric creates a warm, colourful and vibrant look
The rich russets and bold ornate graphics of these suzanis make stunning display artworks when paired against a simple background
Introduce a focal point in any room with a vibrant collage of suzani fabrics. Cover canvas boards of differing sizes for an ever-changing colourful display
Use a vintage suzani as a bold curtain or bedspread. Smaller pieces can be used to make a pretty curtain pelmet
The full feature on decorating with suzani fabrics appeared in the June 2015 issue of Homes & Antiques.