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Jan Patience: Klein living – From the Borders to Balenciaga

© Neil HannaBernat Klein: Design in Colour opens this weekend.
Bernat Klein: Design in Colour opens this weekend.

If ever an exhibition was made for a dreich December day in Scotland, it is Bernat Klein: Design In Colour.

This gorgeous show, which runs until April at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, celebrates the work of adopted Scot Bernat Klein and is a cornerstone of celebrations to mark 100 years since the acclaimed artist and designer was born in former Yugoslavia.

Klein, who settled in the Borders after the Second World War, was a leading light in Modernist design in the postwar years.

Design In Colour examines his career from supplying innovative couture fabrics to top fashion houses, such as Balenciaga, Dior and Yves Saint Laurent, to his strong influence on architecture and interior design.

It’s part of a series of events developed by the Bernat Klein Foundation to celebrate his life and work.

© SYSTEM
Bernat Klein

Klein’s archive was acquired by the museum in 2010. For this show, curators have drawn couture fashion, interior designs, textiles and original paintings, exhibiting them alongside newly acquired pieces.

Colour and textiles were in Klein’s DNA. He was born to an Orthodox Jewish family in Serbia, who ran a textile business. He attended art school in Jerusalem, where exposure to Bauhaus ideas and modernist architecture of Israel had an influence. He escaped the rise of Nazism to study textile technology at Leeds University before settling in the historic textile centre of Galashiels, where he established his design and manufacturing  business, Colourcraft, in 1952.

Klein is best known for his original fashion textiles, with their rich textures and exuberant colour. A breakthrough came when Coco Chanel selected one of his mohair tweed fabrics for her spring-summer 1963 collection.

This snapshot of cool couture from a creative powerhouse is a treat for tired eyes.


The Royal Scottish Academy’s Christmas Show is a dream ticket if you are looking to buy art or to browse through work by some of Scotland’s finest contemporary artists.

Featuring 180 artworks by Royal Scottish Academicians – an honour awarded to artists by their peers – all artworks are currently available for pre-Christmas delivery – although a fair few are already sold! Among my favourite works are the perjinct linocuts by the late Willie Rodger. Kate Downie’s bridge paintings are stunning.