Fabrics, Walls & Floors
Morris & Co
Celebrating 160 years of iconic patterns and exquisite craftsmanship

As a political theorist, publisher, environmental campaigner and poet, William Morris was one of the most influential figures of the 19th century. Yet his most enduring legacy belongs to the realm of interiors where he played a pioneering role in developing British design and supporting traditional craftsmanship. His company, Morris & Co, came to be known as the leading light of the Arts & Crafts movement, loved for its beautifully crafted fabrics and wallpaper that depicted compelling scenes of nature and iconic patterns. Now, to celebrate 160 years in business, the company is sharing its favourite original Morris works, alongside the release of a stunning new wallpaper panel, Owl & Willow.

 

‘Since 1861, Morris & Co has gone from strength to strength. This is an extraordinary accomplishment and we’re marking the occasion with an exciting new wallpaper that captures the spirit of our founder, the master of pattern and repeat,’ says Rebecca Craig, head of design for Morris & Co. ‘We know Morris was passionate about medieval forms and we suspect this influenced his 1890 Holy Grail tapestry, commissioned by Stanmore Hall in London. Inspired by Verdure, which sat behind the tapestries, we have created Owl & Willow, a captivating, colourful scene of enchanting wildlife, stylised trees and delicate florals that pays homage to both William Morris the man and his remarkable designs.’

We have created Owl & Willow, a captivating colourful scene of enchanting wildlife, stylised trees and delicate florals that pays homage to both William Morris the man and his remarkable designs

The hand-picked collection of 42 fabrics and 67 wallpapers chart the decades that Morris & Co has been popular – and used in everything from feature walls to pattern clashes – through both original and re-imagined designs such as Daisy, Bird & Pomegranate, Strawberry Thief and Golden Lily. Other key patterns include Willow Boughs, originally designed by William Morris in 1887 and the perfect expression of his love of nature and the English countryside. As a visual motif, the willow was an enduring source of inspiration, appearing as the background in many earlier designs and even being the subject of his earlier Willow design.

 

Fans of the company’s work will also recognise Blackthorn, thought to be designed by JH Dearle for Morris & Co in 1892, which is a radiant depiction of the blackthorn tree that draws on its rich folkloric heritage (it plays a significant role in Celtic lore) with a densely-packed design of bright white blossoms and accompanying daisies against a background of deepest green; and Pimpernel, from 1876, a near symmetrical design describing the delicate pimpernel flower set atop a base of swirling tendrils.

At Morris & Co today, original archival documents are used to faithfully reproduce William Morris’s cherished designs from the 19th century. Although it makes considered adaptations to reach new audiences, the company retains the artist’s high regard for traditional craftsmanship and incredible eye for timeless pattern, while ensuring that his reputation lives on with a new audience of traditionalists and millennials alike.

Rebecca concludes: ‘We’re bridging generations and creating a coming together of those whose paths may never normally cross, but for whom William Morris holds a special place in their hearts, enabling freedom of expression and an enduring sense of style.’ A hundred and sixty years after he launched his namesake company, we think William Morris would approve.

Morris & Co Chalfont House, Oxford Road, Denham, Uxbridge, UB9 4DX +44 (0)20 3457 5862

Sign up to the Interiors Newsletter and get the latest Top 50 Interiors Guide free to your inbox