Romo’s past, present and future

Emily Mould, Design Director at Romo, is part of the fifth generation to lead the British textiles company founded in 1902. In our discussion, Mould shares her perspective on how the textiles industry has evolved over her tenure, from shifting design trends and consumer tastes to the importance of sustainability.


She discusses the role of technology, the brand’s modernization efforts, and what’s new and exciting in the marketplace. Mould’s passion for design and her family’s business shines through as she reflects on Romo’s past, present and future in textiles.

An evolving family business

DNN: You’ve been the Design Director at Romo for quite some time now. How has the luxury textiles industry evolved over the years, both in terms of design trends and consumer preferences?

EM: Being part of the fifth generation of family members that run Romo, which was originally founded in 1902 by my great, great grandfather Robert Mould, I have been immersed in design and textiles all my life, and which fuelled my passion for the industry. After studying textile design, I began working in the Romo design studio, working my way up to become Design Director in 2008. Over this time, I have seen massive trends and shifts in consumer preferences. 

Interior trends are very circular in nature, with previous trends coming back in style with slight variations. Color is a prime example of this, when I first started in the industry, bold, bright colors were everywhere, these were then replaced with more earthy tones, but now we are seeing the brighter colors make a comeback. Even neutrals are subject to these circular trends, from the warm shades when I first started working, to cooler neutrals in the early 2000s, returning to warmer neutrals more recently. 

As for the use of pattern, when I started out, the trend was for an abundance of patterns and clashing patterns, this then made way for paired back interiors, whilst now we are seeing a combination of the two, with braver yet considered use of pattern, texture and color, with color drenching and high impact designs uniting a space. It has been wonderful to see customers take so much pride in their homes and choose some increasingly statement designs, allowing us to experiment with new techniques and materials. 

Romo textiles global market

DNN: What are the differences in the luxury textiles market between the UK and the US? Are there distinct design styles or consumer tastes that stand out in each region?

EM: We see huge differences in taste all around the world and even within our local markets, the UK (in the same way as the US) sees marked variety from region to region, with styles changing based on location, landscape and property type. This is what makes the design industry such an exciting place to work, I love seeing the diversity of style that makes way to unique individualism. 

At Romo, across our 6 brands, we cater for all aesthetics and styles from English heritage to sleek modernism, but the common factor is that people just want beautiful products.

DNN: How has the increased globalisation of the interior design industry affected the way Romo operates and reaches international markets? 

EM: The increased globalisation of the interior design industry has enabled us to reach almost every corner of the globe, to ensure smooth operations we have dedicated teams and fantastic partners to help everything run efficiently for our customers wherever they are. 

Most recently we have moved into our new state-of-the-art headquarters, which includes our highly automated warehouse which sees us cut and dispatch approximately 2,500 fabric orders and prepare around 5,000 memos and samples a day thereby allowing us to meet this increasingly global demand.

We pride ourselves on our speed of delivery, dispatching orders the same day they are received, typically delivering to the US in 3-5 days.

Sustainable style

DNN: With the rise of sustainability and eco-consciousness, how has the luxury textiles industry adapted its practices and materials? What initiatives has Romo taken in this regard? And do you think sustainability is still top of mind for designers and consumers?

EM: Sustainability is an area that we recognize is challenging for the textile industry, but we are working hard to operate with a focus on environmental sustainability, recognizing the need to minimise our environmental impact and cater to the increasing demand for sustainable products. 

Across our product ranges, we are introducing more qualities created using recycled or sustainable yarns, and a growing number of our products are certified according to  OEKO-TEX STANDARD 100.

We are also working closely with our manufacturers, pushing them to experiment with new environmentally sustainable yarns, most recently our brand Kirkby Design has introduced groundbreaking fibres such as Aloe vera which is more sustainable than conventional materials as the plant grows with no chemicals or fertilisers and does not require any watering.

Outside of our products, we have introduced a 100% recycled plastic wrap for our parcels, and around 95% of waste generated at our Head Office facilities is recycled. Plus, we’re working in partnership with companies like Yodomo in the UK, where we have been able to successfully divert over 10 tonnes of textile waste, encouraging repurposing and building community cohesion. 

Textiles and technology

DNN: What role does technology play in the luxury textiles industry today, particularly in the design and manufacturing processes? What do internal conversations about emerging tech like 3D printing or digital art at Romo sound like? 

EM: Technology plays a critical role in how our organisation operates, with developments in manufacturing allowing us to introduce new groundbreaking qualities.

Digital printing for example has enabled us to create bold large-scale murals, that perfectly translate the hand-drawn essence of the original artwork, whilst new methods such as 3D printing have created enticing textural wallpapers. Technology is certainly a useful tool for our designers, to help manipulate and experiment, but at the heart of Romo is original artistry, with many of our designs created by hand, something technology cannot replicate. 

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Technology also plays a large role in how our business runs, from investment in our website and trade website, mobile tools for our sales teams, to how we visualise product and interact with customers. We’re really excited about some of the advances of technology whilst being mindful that our industry is built on human relationships and the physical experience of design.

Romo’s past, present, and future

DNN: As a family-run business with a long history, how does Romo balance tradition and heritage with innovation and modernity in its product offerings? What are some of the risks you’ve taken to modernise the brand?

EM: At Romo, we are defined by our past, determined by our present, and excited by the future. 

Our company heritage is the backbone of everything we do, and continually shapes our ethos and morals, acting as the building block to our story, whilst continual evolution through innovation has ensured our longevity.

One of the greatest risks we took was introducing two new luxury brands in the height of a recession in 2010, but we knew it was important to modernise our brand portfolio, investing in new products for a new audience. 

I think good design is all about taking risks, trying new things and listening to feedback from customers enabling us to constantly evolve effectively.

DNN: What new Romo collections are you excited about? And is there a dream project you would love to have realised?

EM: There are too many exciting collections coming through the pipeline to mention all of them but Mark Alexander, our timeless, artisanal brand, will be launching an exquisite range in the Fall including tactile weaves, textural sheers and trimmings which I am very excited about.

Also, Romo is launching a new fabric and wallcovering range called Ottavia that has some truly striking designs. I have worked on many dream projects so far in my career with Romo, but my highlight must be our new head office in the UK.

The culmination of a clear vision and years of planning led to the creation of this architecturally outstanding building that combines a highly automated warehouse, 3 beautifully lit design studios and an inspiring office environment. A true labour of love, it has been amazing to work with my family to build a space that we are all truly proud of and that will last for generations to come.

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