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Holding onto the Summer with our favourite William Morris designs…

21st August 2017

We were reviewing our website the other day and were struck with the realisation that we’ve got such a huge range of licensed William Morris designs right now! Each one rich in history, standing the test of time as they’re still wildly popular so many years after they were designed and each a work of art in their own right. We thought we’d give a little overview of our top Summer designs that we keep around the house year round to keep that sunny feeling alive!

Pimpernel

Pimpernel was first produced in 1876 by William Morris, who named it Pimpernel after the small pimpernel flowers within the background which are almost glossed over as the large poppies dominate it. It’s always interesting to see the names of designs where the artist has singled out what appears at first to be a secondary aspect of the piece to new it. Pimpernel marks the first example of Morris using a turnover pattern. If you put all his pieces in a timeline of their creation, you can almost follow the influences he had during the different periods in his life. After the creation of this design for example, he abandoned the tonal shading seen in the Pimpernel design in favour of lighter or more linear patterns.

Pimpernel can be seen in the Billiard Room at Wightwick Manor – if you ever have a chance to visit Wightwick make sure you pay attention to the designs throughout the Manor. We have this design in green and also in cream, which would you choose?

Golden Lily

Golden Lily was designed in 1897, and remains one of our best selling licensed William Morris designs, it is beautiful with intertwining tulips, lilies and leaves. We’d mention here that the fabric we sell by the half meter looks incredible as curtains – we’ve seen many customer photos who have used the Golden Lily on design in a curtain and then complimented it with accessories such as cushions on the sofa or a custom lampshade in the same factory. It looks amazing!

Merton

Available in blue and white as well as green and cream, we can never decide which we prefer! It was first produced by Morris in 1888 when his company Morris & Co. moved their premises to Merton Abbey in Surrey in 1881. Previously, the company had been located in Queens Square, Bloomsbury and had been called ‘Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co.’ before being reformed. It was the first design the company printed on rotary screens – an incredible achievement. We’ve blogged before about what a pioneer Morris was – always with a thirst to learn new techniques to make his art better and the design clearer on fabric.

 

Willow Bough

First designed in 1887, like many other of William Morris’ designs, it was first produced as a wallpaper. His daughter, May Morris used the pattern to decorate her bedroom. It was in 1895 that the design was adapted for use on fabric and it was then block printed in Merton Abbey. We love little stories or quotes from Morris and his close friends/ family/ associates about his work and so we love that May spoke about the design and discussed where he got his inspiration for the design and to think it was time spent with his daughter he got the inspiration. “We were walking one day by our little stream that runs into the Thames and my father pointed out the detail and soon after the paper was done.” In blue or in green and cream – which colour way is your favourite?

Sweet Briar

Designed in 1912 by John Henry Dearle, Sweet Briar was again designed as a wallpaper and was adapted to a fabric shortly after. Dearle was a British textile and stained-glass designer, trained by Morris and eventually became Morris & Co.’s chief designer in 1890. He was greatly inspired by Morris himself and Morris’ influences of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. After Morris’ death in 1896, he became Art Director of the company and following Edward Burne-Jones’ death in 1890, became the principle stained glass designer. He remained true to Morris’ vision for the company and didn’t stay far from work Morris produced himself.

We adore this design – a soft cream background with climbing rose stems in green and soft browns allow the pink sweet briar roses to become prominent in the design. Beautiful in any room in the house, these colours look beautiful in the home year-round.

 

Lily

Designed by Morris in 1874, Lily is a beautiful design which has long been one of our favourites this time of year. The design incorporates the willow background with lilies and wild flowers. We can tell which were Morris’ favourite designs or the ones that inspired him the most as they’re the ones that decorated his own home. The Lily wallpaper was used to decorate his bedroom at Kelmscott Manor, his Gloucestershire home. The house and it’s contents were preserved after his death in 1896 by his younger daughter May Morris, before being passed to the Society of Antiquaries

Which is your favourite Morris design?

 

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