Noted for surreal and provocative textiles and wallpapers, design studio Timorous Beasties was founded in Glasgow in 1990 by Alistair McAuley and Paul Simmons, who met studying textile design at Glasgow School of Art. The name ‘Timorous Beasties’ is taken from the poem To a Mouse by Scotland’s much-celebrated poet, Robert Burns.
Timorous Beasties’ work can be seen as a wayward take on the often ‘twee’ world of textiles, with heavily illustrative insects, triffid-like plants, birds and other animals. We are also known for our contemporary take on the ‘Toile de Jouy’ fabrics of Napoleonic France, and have designed a number of toiles based on different cities around the world. The original ‘Toile’ designs are viewed today as very traditional but, in fact, depict scenes of drinking and womanising that reflected the society of the day. Similarly, Timorous Beasties’ toiles reflect the under-belly of urban social realism against a back drop of familiar, landmark buildings.
One of our strengths is the ability to provide a bespoke service, from custom colours to original artwork. All design work takes place at our Glasgow Studio where we continue to hand-print many of our fabrics and wallpapers. In addition, an experimental approach and investment in new design and manufacturing techniques has allowed us to move into other product areas including lace, jacquards, lighting, rugs and ceramics.
Timorous Beasties opened our first retail shop in 2004 on the Great Western Road in Glasgow and a second shop in central London in 2007. In addition we have collaborated with brands such as Brintons Carpets, Nike and Famous Grouse. In 2011 we produced a bespoke collection of cushions for John Lewis; an exclusive range of textiles and home accessories for Liberty of London; and home accessories for the newly refurbished National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.