Floral Patterns of India

Location: Jal Mahal Palace-Jaipur

In the Jal Mahal at Jaipur two chicks with a block-printed floral motif by Brigitte Singh billow out in a breeze. © 2016 Henry Wilson

London design expert Henry Wilson captures the most eye-catching floral patterns in the country that inspires him

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

India is a place of raw, natural beauty. Its vast plains swelter under the golden sunrise. Its rivers churn through winding countryside, and its hills are a kaleidoscope of native plants and flowers. As is evident in photographer Henry Wilson’s newest tomb Floral Patterns of India, these splendors are often reflected in some of India’s most illustrious buildings and monuments. This is particularly true when it comes to one of the most ubiquitous motifs in Indian design: floral. Since flowers are an integral part of the culture, floral patterns decorate everything from Indian bars and forts to hotels and palaces.

Through his photographs of these structures and interiors, Wilson shares his deep appreciation for India’s decorative arts. His photos reveal the skilled craftspeople that have created floral patterns in everything from stencil drawings and wallpaper to temple and palace carvings. Each photo is accompanied by a hand-drawn recreation of the design to capture its detail and explain the pattern’s history.

The breathtaking compilation of whimsical and ornate floral designs proves both inspirational and informative. If nothing else, Floral Patterns of India will pull you into the mystique of India – if only for the duration of a page. For more information on Thames and Hudson’s Floral Patterns of India by Henry Wilson, visit thamesandhudsonusa.com.

Location: Raj Niwas Palace-Dholpur

A grand reception room in the Raj Niwas Palace. At the top the wall is tiled with a sequence of lemon trees. © 2016 Henry Wilson

Location: Jaipur Paladio-Jaipur

A large padded stool is upholstered with a hand-block-printed fabric by the Jaipur-based Gito Patni. © 2016 Henry Wilson

Location: Jaipur Paladio-Jaipur

The Narain Niwas Palace in Jaipur was built as a country retreat in 1928 by General Amar Singh. Now a hotel, it houses the Bar Palladio, a bar and restaurant established by Italian-born Barbara Miolini, that opened its doors in December 2013. Designed by Marie-Anne Oudejans, it is decorated throughout in an arresting sky blue and white, with floral patterns painted by Vikas Soni. © 2016 Henry Wilson

Location: Gwalior Fort-Gwaliar

In a land with some of the most dramatic forts in the world, the Gwalior Fort in Madhya Pradesh stands out. The Man Mandir Palace there was built by Raja Man Singh Tomar in the years around 1500, and to the Mughal Emperor Babur it was “the pearl among the fortresses of Hind.” After walking for weeks through the parched ravines of the Chambal Valley, a viper’s nest of predatory dacoits, it must have been a particularly awesome sight—monumental walls festooned with shimmering blue and yellow tiles and a skyline of copper—and gold-clad chhatris© 2016 Henry Wilson

Location: Udai Bilas Palace-Dungarpur

Another bedroom in the Udai Bilas Palace has a paper designed by Henry Wilson and printed by Osborne & Little of London. A luxuriant bouquet is held in a vase with handles in the form of peacock heads, resting on a shallow tray with attendant peacocks. (The peacock is the royal bird of Rajasthan and the national bird of India.) The ornamental motif is reproduced with a metallic finish that catches the light from the windows in the opposite wall, looking on to the palace gardens. © 2016 Henry Wilson

Location: Jal Mahal Palace-Jaipur

The early 18th-century Jal Mahal or Water Palace at Jaipur in Rajasthan has immensely rich decoration, re-created in the recent restoration. In the ceiling flowers are set in an ornate trellis of elephant heads with linking trunks, antelope heads and peacock heads, all finished in silver leaf. © 2016 Henry Wilson


The intricate interior of Bohra house in Siddhpur, covered by a rich plaster ceiling. We are looking across a simple Gujarati jula, a swing. Beyond, the woodwork is carved with floral motifs. On the right is the “nose”—a shrine-like alcove, with floral decoration in its structure and the repeat pattern of its tiles, where drinking water is kept cool, to be served to visitors. © 2016 Henry Wilson