Iconic British Textile Designers

It is no secret that we love design! Stuart is a painter and screen printer extroidanairre and we have some exceptional hand illustrators and digital designers within our art department here at the print studio. We have previously written about Balinese textiles and ethnic Mola art but today is the turn of the great British textile designer.

William Morris

william morrisWilliam Morris (1834 – 1896) is probably one of the most famous British textile designers of all time. Known as the ‘Father of the Arts and Crafts Movement’, his floral patterns heavily influenced Victorian interior design. Morris was destined for a career in architecture and as a very young man he was placed under the tutelage of gothic revival architect George Edmund Street. During his studies Morris became increasingly enamoured with the Pre-Raphaelite painters and bought a number of their paintings. Later he formed an acquaintance with one of these painters, Dante Gabriel Rosetti, with whom he would stay lifelong friends. Rosetti persuaded Morris to take up painting and his hand soon turned to furniture and textile design. Morris really showcased his artistic skills in the design of the house he had built for his wife, Jane Burden. When finished, the house was considered an architectural and decorative triumph. Around this time Morris began designing patterns for wallpapers and fabrics that were largely inspired by his love of nature. Later when he started Morris & Co, his London based Design Company, he felt the need to teach himself the arts of fabric dying, embroidery, woodblock printing and weaving. The business centred on traditional textile arts and hand craftsmanship in a post industrial revolution world. Some of the biggest commissions for Morris & Co came from St.James’s Palace and the South Kensington Museum. This cemented the business as the place to go to for interior design.


Mary White

marywhiteMary White (1930-Present) was one of the most iconic print designers of the 1950’s. She created patterns for curtains, cushions and even clothing. Mary studied at Thanet School of Arts & Crafts and later in the 1960’s she formed 'Thanet Pottery' with her brother David. Mary received international recognition after designing fabrics for use on the Queen Mary Ocean Liner and at Heathrow Airport. Similar to William Morris, Mary drew on her love of nature to create designs like the legendary ‘Cottage Garden’. She is said to have inspired the likes of other iconic designers such as Laura Ashley and Terrance Conran. Recently Mary’s children have revived some of their Mothers classic prints for use on a range of swimwear and other items of clothing.


Lucienne Day

Abstract pattern designer Lucienne Day (1917 – 2010) is credited with adding colour back into the lives of the British public in a post World War Two era. She believed in making art and design accessible to all people and was influenced by artists such as Kandinsky and Lucienne-DayKlee. Day studied at the Royal College of Art where she met furniture designer and her future husband, Robin Day. At the start of her 5 decade career Day designed fabrics for dresses. However, she quickly became involved in the Houses for People Movement and turned her hand to designing carpets, table linen and curtains. It was her striking and incredibly contemporary pattern ‘Calyx’ that shot her to fame when it was exhibited at the 'Festival of Britain' in 1951. The success of Calyx marked the start of a long term relationship with Heal’s Fabrics who would print Day’s designs for the next 20 years. She was the first woman to become a 'Master at the Faculty of Royal Designers' and is known as a pioneer of women into the creative arts.


Cath Kidston

Cath Kidston (1958 – Present) fabrics are instantly recognisable for their nostalgic floral prints. Kidston’s first job was working for a vintage fabric dealer in London during which time she developed a passion for crafts and all things vintage. She later trained as an interior designer and ocathkidstonpened her first shop, selling curtains, in 1981. Whilst browsing a magazine, Kidston had what she describes as a Eureka! moment and decided she wanted to create her own designs with an ‘English heritage’ theme. She later coined the phrase ‘Modern Vintage’ to describe her quintessential yet contemporary patterns. She made bags and cushion covers from her fabrics and as popularity increased she was provided with an opportunity to sell her products in a number of big name London stores. The public loved (and still do) her pastel floral designs which were used to create practical products. Though Kidston has now sold the majority share in the business, the Cath Kidston Company currently has 59 stores in the UK and expanding at a rate of knots. It is unlikely you will be able to walk down today’s High Street without seeing one of her bags or other accessories being carried by a fashion savvy shopper.


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