Beautifully crafted fabrics and wallpapers keeping the legacy of William Morris alive
Interest in William Morris has never been greater than in recent years.
A leading light of the Arts & Crafts movement and the most successful textile and wallpaper designer of his day, he pursued the age-old craft of block-printing wallpapers and fabrics; set up his own tapestry-weaving and hand- knotted carpet workshops; and dominated stained-glass manufacture in Britain in the second half of the 19th century. As custodians of William Morris’ original company, Morris & Co takes inspiration from the archive and all aspects of William’s life and work to create collections that feature new wallcoverings and fabrics alongside his classic designs.
All collections are created in Morris & Co’s dedicated design studio, where new interpretations of patterns are hand-painted to maintain the charm of the originals (the company owns many of William Morris’ hand- printed wallpaper and fabric samples, and can still produce wallpapers to order using his hand-blocks). For instance, when William Morris originally designed the Acanthus wallpaper in 1875, he was constrained to design within the scale of a wooden hand-block so the repeat had an almost grid-like effect. Recently, this was repainted in fine detail to capture of original artistry but improve the flow of the design.
As well as being something of a British treasure, the company enjoys international success, especially in Japan and Sweden. One of the most popular collections launched in the last few years was Pure Morris, in 2016. Born from a visit to the archive where the team discovered monochromatic patterns and wallpapers printed using different techniques such as cut glass and metallic inks, the collection presented his iconic designs in a pared- back, neutral palette. Building on its success, this summer sees the launch of ‘North’ and ‘Kindred’, two collections of printed fabrics, embroideries, weaves and wallpapers, inspired by William Morris’ travels to Iceland.
Reflecting the colours and descriptions of Iceland’s flora and fauna found in William Morris’ travel journal, archive designs have been carefully reworked with gentle mica finishes and metallic highlights sitting alongside fine embroidery, juxtaposed with chunky textures. A neutral Pure Morris palette of White Clover, Stormy Grey, Flax and Linen is used throughout both collections, accented with subtle tones such as Horned Poppy, Faded Sea Pink and the dramatic Black Ink.
Morris & Co is into the fourth series of the Archive range: Archive IV, named ‘The Collector’, explores William Morris’ collection of Persian carpets and global textiles and the influence it had on his work. The company also has an extended programme of licensing goods and works with carefully selected partners on bedlinen, rugs, room fragrance, toiletries, crockery and giftware to name a few. Last December marked one of the most exciting collaborations so far: a capsule fashion collection with Loewe, based on four Morris & Co prints. In all collaborations and collections, the company strives to uphold William Morris’ original aesthetic and fulfil his legacy, ensuring that his beautifully crafted designs continue to be appreciated today.
Morris & Co, Style Library Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, London, SW10 0XE. +44 (0)20 3903 3700