Some of you may have seen last week I posted a picture on Instagram of Bernat Klein‘s studio near Selkirk in the Scottish Borders. I drive past this derelict house so often whilst ferrying yarn and pompoms between the mill and the dye -house, and it’s hard to miss this striking building nestled in the hills by High Sunderland.
The studio was designed by modernist architect Peter Womersley and completed in 1972. It’s such an unusual building I remember the first time I saw it I had to pull over and have a look as it’s just not something you expect to see in a small valley in the Borders. It’s such a shame that is is derelict at the moment, I’d love to see it renovated. You can easily see how it made the perfect studio for Klein, surround by nature, plenty of natural light, coupled with a fantastic aspect and beautiful setting.
Here is a bit about the designer from his obituary in The Telegraph:
“Bernat Klein was a Serbian-born textile designer who made his home in Scotland and was taken up by some of Europe’s leading fashion houses.
After an itinerant childhood, Klein settled in the Borders shortly after the war, though not without misgivings. “I dreaded it,” he admitted years later. “I thought Scotland would be so very, very cold – and it was.”
Klein had studied textile technology at Leeds University, graduating in 1948, then designed woven fabrics for ties and handkerchiefs in Bolton before moving to Edinburgh to work for Munrospun, creating fabrics for ladies’ coats and skirts. In 1950 the company relocated to Galashiels, and the Borders remained Klein’s much-loved home for the rest of his life.
His big break came in January 1962 when he was sitting in his office in Galashiels leafing through the latest edition of Elle magazine. He was astonished to see a substantial article featuring one of his tweeds — which had been taken to Paris by an agent a few months earlier — made into a suit by Chanel.
“I was too excited to speak or to realise the far-reaching implications,” Klein told The Scotsman in 2011. Up to this point, Klein had been selling lambswool scarves to chain stories such as Woolworths, Littlewoods and Marks & Spencer. Now, however, he found himself in demand from some of the biggest names in fashion: not just Chanel, but also Balenciaga, Pierre Cardin and Yves Saint Laurent.
Vogue praised him for having “revolutionised traditional English fabrics to win them new recognition abroad”. His creations were worn by Jean Shrimpton (arguably the world’s first supermodel) and by Princess Margaret — while the Princess’s husband, the Earl of Snowdon, wore his tweeds. Soon Klein’s company was turning over nearly £1 million a year, and he played an important part in the post-war revival of the Borders’ weaving and cloth making industries. “
Photo of the studio back in 1972 taken from Pinterest:The studio today, still looking rather beautiful even though it is disused:Images by Space Light Order: Some of Klein’s vivid textiles & art-works:
Bernat Klein : 1922 – 2014
(Image from :Dovecot Studios)