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Launching our new design: William Morris Trellis

8th October 2017

Working on and launching a new design is always an exciting time- getting the colouring and detailing just right is something we here at Laura’s Beau take very seriously! We’re excited to finally launch our new licensed William Morris design that we’ve been teasing over on our social channels; Trellis.

Whilst on numerous trips to Standen, Trellis was always a design that caught our eye. This can still been seen today in Standen.

Trellis, first designed for wallpaper in 1864, was the first wallpaper designed by William Morris. During his career, he designed 41 wallpapers and five ceiling papers.

Remember that the papers were all hand-printed in distemper colours from pear wood blocks. Why pear wood? Basically, it’s made up of a fine grain which is absorbent and whilst it was easy to carve, it was also durable. He turned to Messrs. Jeffrey of Essex Road, Islington, to help him with the process. The printing process was hand done and therefore it was an arduous task – each colour within the print required it’s own separate block. Take a look at Morris’ prints and you’ll see how his intricate use of colour could cause an issue here! In some designs, there are over 40 colours which makes the task labour intensive and expensive. He initially produced three wallpapers in 1864, Trellis, Daisy and Fruit (also known as Pomegranate.) These must have been an expensive initial investment as each design needed 12 blocks – perhaps why he shied away from original wallpaper designs with fine details of nature until the early 1870s where we can trace he began with these designs again – perhaps we can chalk this up to influence or perhaps the fact the Firm at this point had more financial stability and could afford to print such detailed designs in this way.

Put the three patterns side by side and you’ll notice some similarities – they’re almost simple in design compared to some of his more elaborate later patterns, though by no means less beautiful and they show off his raw talent from the beginning. May Morris spoke about these first designs by her father that it was as though, “he had been at the trick for years.” All three have naturalistic elements, flowers, leaves, the birds in Trellis and the fruit in Fruits. From the beginning and throughout his later patterns, we can see he used the same influences, always so influenced by his surroundings and by nature in particular, he created so many designs which have endured the test of time and remained popular by using the same sources of inspiration, Helen Dore notes this in her book titled William Morris, “from the beginning it is significant that his genius lay in creating so many different designs from a limited repertoire of relatively few elements. Most importantly, these early papers illustrate Morris’s ability to visualise how a repeat pattern would work in the whole – a tremendous gift.” (Page 70) May Morris spoke of her fathers talent, “in designing for a pattern meant to be repeated, you never can tell the effect absolutely till it is seen in mass.”

Though Trellis was designed first, it wasn’t produced first as it was delayed as Webb designed the birds, something he often did throughout their careers together. Dore writes beautifully about the design, “The idea or the trellis scheme, which provides a uniform rectangular grid contrasting with the continuous motif of the trailing, meandering rose stem, was probably inspired by the rose trellises at the Red House; Berwick’s Birds was always a major source of design inspiration for Webb.” (Page 71)

Webb kept Trellis as one of his personal favourite designs which was proved by him using it extensively at Standen, where you can still see it today in both the lobby through to the conservatory and in the Morning Room corridor. The house has a huge connection to the fabric and our friends there love our licensed Trellis design! May Morris also remembered Trellis being used in her bedroom at Queen Square – in fact a little anecdote she shared once was that she used to lie away frightened by one of the birds “because he was throughout to be wicked and very alive.”

We love our new design and hope you all do too! Which is your favourite Trellis product? Check them all out here!

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