Tulu is cabbages, lotuses, tin cans, turquoise tiles, tulips. Harold Melvin, grandmother’s curtains, mahfouz, fig trees, enameled copper, bazaars full of junk, vintage pucci, campari and lime, a suburban girl at home in Istanbul.
Elizabeth Hewitt, Tulu’s designer and owner, began her work as an antique textile dealer and collector. A constant traveller – to India, Central Asia, Indonesia, Burma, Morocco, Spain – Elizabeth is constantly collecting – fabrics, objects, sights, sounds, colors, stories – and incorporating them into her work:
I take photos of tin cans and funny walls and worn down marble, then I do a painting and that becomes a design. I cut up paper and photos and words. I paint and sketch ideas that come from hearing live music, reading a good book, hearing a story. I am just following what I am feeling or loving. I love 20th-century design and art. And I love crusty old textiles and antiques. I especially love crusty old textiles that look like they were designed in 1950 but were actually made in some weird place 200 years ago.
And as all her friends will attest, elizabeth is a great storyteller, and her fabrics are artistic versions of her infectious stories told over one or ten cocktails. Tulu is full of stories. Not only in the names of fabrics and bedding collections – Stella, Melvin, Kezban, Madame Thar, Lu-si, all of them real people in Elizabeth’s wide circle of friends and influences – but also in the character of the designs themselves. Elizabeth’s unique combination of scale and saturated color make her designs bold and beautiful or sophisticated and unassuming, as if they are telling us their story in their own language.
Tulu is like a well-kept secret, or a well-told story, that gets richer with the retelling.