Such disturbing images are more readily associated with Grayson Perry's pots or the Chapman brothers' terrariums than wallcoverings or fabrics, widely assumed to be there to soothe or comfort a person in the privacy of their own home. "We're in a market where it's really easy to shock," says Simmons. Indeed, given how ubiquitous shock tactics have been in British visual arts for the past two decades, perhaps wallpaper is one of the few remaining media in which an artist might be able to cause genuine upset.
And the pair may enjoy getting such reactions. "I remember a woman coming in for some fabric for her sofa," says McAuley. "She found the toile very soothing. I liked thinking about what it would be like when she realised she was relaxing next to a gunman."
"The imagery in the original French toiles from the 18th century is actually quite shocking," says McAuley. "They have scenes of workers womanising, smoking and drinking. What we've done, in the Glasgow toile, is update the imagery. So a pipe becomes a rollie, an old man sitting on a stool in a rural scene becomes a tramp on a park bench, a glass of wine becomes a can of super lager."
"The time is right for us to try London," says McAuley. "It'll mean that customers down there won't have to order over the internet any more." He suggests that London needs the Beasties: "I hate that high street thing - it's overpriced and you find exactly the same product in New York and Los Angeles. The whole thing with globalisation is terrible. Our aim in moving to Clerkenwell is to provide a corrective to the kind of interior design that people are sick of in London."
When one looks around at all the wallcoverings, the bee wallpapers for instance, one is struck by their disturbing verisimilitude. "What got us going in that direction," says Simmons, "was that there were often butterflies or flowers in wallpapers and fabrics, but they were always soft and romanticised. You wouldn't see the tendrils or scales. They were so abstracted they didn't look like what they were supposed to be. For us, paper and pen is still the starting point. I'm not sure that's the case for many designers or artists coming from art schools now, because the quality of drawing is so poor."
When the pair were textile design students at Glasgow School of Art in the late 1980s, they would draw giant insects on the streets on Saturdays to keep solvent. "We would talk long into the night about what pish current wallpaper design was," says McAuley. "One great thing is that we still feel the same way. We were at a trade fair in Paris yesterday and couldn't believe the shite this one guy was serving up as wallpaper. He'd just plonked his motif on the paper with no sense of how the repeat would work." "Pathetic," agrees Simmons.
But Timorous Beasties aren't interested in performing domestic make-overs for unimaginative clients - let Channel 5's House Doctor do that. "We don't coordinate," says McAuley. "We don't give formulaic answers to everybody's interior design dilemmas." So what do you do? "We supply wallpapers and fabrics that are beautiful. People don't often think that way about wallpaper, but we do. Our wallpapers exist like beautiful pieces of furniture."
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