Matthew Bettencourt's textiles are unquestionably aspirational. They depict opulent European architecture, luxurious materials like marble, and even images of Marie Antoinette. But the prints, which are offered under the label Bettencourt Manor and sold as either wallpapers, upholstery or gift wrapping, are also highly personal, representing Bettencourt's passions (travel), predilections (antiques and all things vintage) and family history (a textile called Sheila is patterned with black-and-white photos of Bettencourt's grandmother).
The look of the collection is in line with classic labels such as William Morris – and their contemporary offshoots including London-based House of Hackney – but many of the offerings are based on his own photography of places he's been or things he's seen, which creates a sense of intimacy with the subject matter. The textile Hepburn, for example, features the ethereal texture of a white mink coat. But the way it's captured and cropped is almost quirky, like an interesting Instagram image, as opposed to intimidating, like a high-concept spread from World of Interiors. Rather than high-priced fur, it almost looks like abstracted clouds or waves.
And despite the grand names of some of the pieces – Chateau or Jean Louis, for example – there's a sense of practicality behind the collection. The Regency collection features a pattern of inlaid, richly veined marble. But when used for an accent pillow, it infuses a space with a sense of luxury "without having to remodel the home," says Bettencourt. "Marble is expensive," he adds. "Not everyone has the ability to tile their floor with it." It helps that the fabrics, sold through www.spoonflower.com, are reasonably priced, starting at under $20 per yard.
Perhaps the juxtaposition of the aspirational and the personal is a reflection of where Bettencourt is in his own life. He's excitedly building his future. Last fall, he married his partner, Rick, a vice-president at Nine West Canada. (Naturally, the wedding's decor featured Bettencourt Manor designs, including the bar, which was fronted in Knock Out, a pattern of bold, brass, lion-headed door knockers). As a honeymoon, the two toured France (hence the allusions to Versailles in his latest fabrics).
He's also building his business. In addition to Bettencourt Manor, he runs the Toronto-based residential design agency Heirloom & Knot, which he started in 2014. "My background is in public relations and marketing," he says. "I used to do a lot of events, where there was a focus on design and how things looked. That sparked something in me, so I decided to venture down this other road."
And venture he continues to do. With travel being an important source of inspiration, it's no surprise he already has his next trip planned: He's headed to Portugal and the Azores. "I'm sure there will be collections following up to that," he notes. Beyond Portugal, "there are so many possibilities," he says. As he sees the world, his fabrics will be the diary of the beautiful things and places encountered along the way.