Home objects // Illustration // Tableware

Semper Fortis

Designing a contemporary Toile de Jouy 

SEMPER FORTIS - a contemporary Toile de Jouy was created in spring 2020 for Design Decameron, an online project by Cercle Cité, calling on ten Luxembourgish designers to create an artwork offering an intimate look at the current events linked to the global shockwave. 

The beauty of the 18th century monochrome print and its motifs - often recording historic events, the events of the day, cultural happenings or spreading political messages - inspired MONOGRAM to design a contemporary Toile, interpreting this unprecedented event in the digital era. In this Jules Vernesque version of Luxembourg during the SARS-CoV-2-crisis, the guiding principle is to “always stay courageous”. Adventurous hideaways become places to confine away from potential danger, an escape from reality, love in times of a plague. 

Following the online success of the project, MONOGRAM ventured into designing a range of tableware including plates and mugs, scented candles in different sizes and dish towels. A capsule collection was created together with vol(t)age, a Luxembourg fashion brand creating silk shirts and scarves. 

Historically, Toile de Jouy (“cloth from Jouy”) prints were the perfect medium to propagate not only populist themes, but also political views as well as recording historic events; one by Jean-Baptiste Huet (c. 1783) proudly showed off France’s scientific prominence with scenes from the first hot-air balloon flight, and other toiles featured images of colonial aspirations with fleets of sailing ships reaching their destinations of tropical islands and negotiating with tribal leaders. The type of print is characterized by complex vignettes scattered over the surface of the cloth. Originally, they were scenes carved on woodblocks or engraved on copperplates, then printed on textiles for interior design or clothing. From c. 1760 to c. 1821 the textile factory at Jouy-en-Josas, south-west of Paris, distinguished itself with the creation of large figurative designs depicting important occurrences of the time in order to appeal to their customers. Through their interest in certain events, engravers and artists both provoked and participated in veritable fads.