In 1961, New York interior designer Robin Roberts founded Clarence House on the premise that uncompromising artistry and forward-thinking technology could combine together to make magic. Originally, he imported fabrics from Europe that had never been seen in America. But eventually, Clarence House became involved in every aspect of the creative process, with its own design studio, close relationships with European mills and textile archives, and a dedicated in-house art director, Kazumi Yoshida.
Today, Clarence House has become one of the foremost style setters in the decorative fabric industry, helping to achieve the vision of top-tier interior designers, and providing the furnishing fabrics for pre-eminent museums and countless historic houses. Known for its hand-screen printing of fabrics and wallpapers rendered in high-style textures and fearless color palettes, Clarence House boasts a decidedly European and timeless feel.
Accessible exclusively to the trade, Clarence House textiles are available through our flagship showroom in the D&D Building in New York, as well as showrooms throughout the United States and abroad (these can be found through the location search tool on our website). Clarence House account holders can also set up a web account to shop, check stock, request samples and order products directly through our website. Whether you’re looking for juicy jewel tones, saturated hues, more-muted tones and even nuanced neutrals, Clarence House dreams up hand-loomed brocades, soft cottons and velvets, sumptuous silks, light linens and sheers, rich leathers, romantic damasks, and complementary trimmings of the highest quality. Just as Roberts imagined all those years ago. And Yoshida leads with this in mind: “I continue to listen to my inspirations,” he says, “and produce textiles that reflect a point of view unlike any other in the market.”
“I joined Clarence House in 1981. The reason Robin hired me was that Clarence House was on the cusp of change. The company had licensing and royalty deals to fulfill with Bernardaud Limoges for china, Cannon Mills for bedding, Imperial for wall coverings, and P/Kaufmann for fabric. (Robin’s close working relationship with Peter Kaufmann was one of the reasons that the latter’s company, P/Kaufmann Inc., got the nod when Robin decided to sell Clarence House in 2002.) Plus the firm needed new fabrics of its own because companies like Manuel Canovas and Osborne & Little were finally able to open their own operations in the United States and didn’t need Clarence House as a distributor any longer. When the European companies decamped, it seriously reduced the number of designs we were able to offer. Robin was working with freelancers and had a bare-bones design studio that was not equipped to meet the new demands. He didn’t have anyone who could execute his ideas.”
How did they decide to call their new venture Clarence House? When Keith and Robin were in the planning stage, the Queen Mother, who was living at the royal residence Clarence House, had announced Princess Margaret’s engagement to Antony Armstrong-Jones. So the name was in the air. Robin thought it sounded both established and impressive, yet it was vague enough not to get them in trouble. “We couldn’t call it Buckingham Palace,” he sometimes remarked. The name was meant to set the tone. It was meant to exude grandeur, luxury, and a sense of heritage. And it did.
Reportedly, one of Robin’s somewhat snooty customers, an uptown society lady, told him early on that she was so happy he had opened in New York because she always shopped at Clarence House in London. It was typical of Robin to have a little fun with people, playing to their pretensions as he honed his own. With typical tongue-in-cheek humor, Robin and Keith kept a picture of the Queen Mother prominently displayed upstairs in the showroom. And if people did ask what the connection to the original Clarence House was, Robin would brush it off, shutting down the inquiry with this standard clever retort: “We are not at liberty to say.”