3rd September 2019
Every so often, we love to take a look around our collection and see how many beautiful licensed William Morris designs we have within it. Each with a unique story, we wanted to share with you a closer look at our designs…
We produce Strawberry Thief in both red and blue. It was first designed in 1883 and was a triumph for Morris as it was the first design he perfected printing using his pioneering indigo-dye technique at Merton Abbey.
There’s a lovely story behind this design; once again inspired by nature, it was as Morris sat on the privy that he watched the birds steal the strawberries in his garden from under the fruit nets at his home, Kelmscott Manor. May Morris described this wonderfully when she said, “You can imagine my father going out in the early morning and watching the rascally thrushes at work on the fruit beds and telling the fanned who growls, ‘I’d like to wring their necks!’ that no bird in the garden must be touched. There were certainly more birds than strawberries in spite of attempts at protection. And the walls of the little dining-room are hung with this note of the June garden and the little lords of it.” We love the description and more of an insight into their daily life at Kelmscott Manor, Morris’ paradise.
Trellis was inspired by the rose trellis in the garden of Morris’s home, Red House. It was designed in 1864 and followed his style of being inspired by nature. Trellis was the first wallpaper he ever created and the birds within the design were drawn by his friend and colleague, Philip Webb.
Along with our Trellis products, we also have a few that also showcase a picture of Morris along with his most famous quote, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
First designed in 1887, Willow Bough is one of our all time favourite Morris designs. We have it in both blue and white and green and cream, which is your favourite? This is a stunning patterns with soft willow leaves throughout, it really feels bright and light, bringing nature indoors.
May Morris also spoke about this design, “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.” Block printed when it was adapted for fabric in Merton Abbey, May Morris even used Willow Bough as her wallpaper design.
Golden Lily was designed in 1897 and remains one of our favourite designs. The stunning colours within the design compliment the intertwining tulips, lilies and leaves within the design. The reds, blues and greens hue within the design perfectly complements the naturalistic pattern which is common of Morris’s designs.
William Morris Brother Rabbit was first produced in 1882. It was one of the first designs to be designed and created using the indigo-discharge method of printing. We also produce William Morris Brother Rabbit in a red colourway – we love it in both colours too much to pick our favourite! It is also referred to as ‘Brer Rabbit,’ which alludes to the Uncle Remus Stories by J.C. Harris, of which Morris and his children Jenny and May were fond of reading at their home, Kelmscott Manor. The birds within the designs were drawn by Morris’ close friend Philip Webb.
Compton was originally commissioned for Mr Lawrence Hodson’s Compton Hall, Wolverhampton. Morris was redesigning the interior in 1896. It was the last design he did before his death in the same year. The physician gave the cause of his death as, “simply being William Morris, and having done more work than most ten men.” The original design required two sets of wood blocks to print all 28 colours within the design because of the large vertical repeating pattern – it has since been scaled down and adapted for a wider audience.
Lily was designed in 1874 and a beautifully subtle design which an astonishing amount of detail. The willow background coupled with lilies and wildflowers, the design was a return to more of a powdered style for Morris. He personally must have been a fan of the design as it was the wallpaper he used to decorate his bedroom at Kelmscott Manor. Kelmscott was his home in Lechlade, Gloucestershire. Following his death in 1896, the house was preserved by his daughter May Morris before being passed to the Society of Antiquaries.
Pimpernel is a wonderful design, and remains an incredibly famous one for Morris. Designed in 1876, today it remains as the wallpaper adorning the walls of the Billiard room in Wightwick Manor. Again with a naturalistic influence, the repeating pattern is typical of his work and it is named after the smaller pimpernel flowers within the design rather than the large poppies which dominate the design. Available in two colour ways; Pimpernel Cream and Pimpernel Green.
Eyebright was designed by William Morris in 1883. To begin with it was to have the specific use of a lining fabric; of course, it’s way too beautiful to be hidden in a lining! In 1883, Morris’s designs seemed to develop to have a tendency to have a marked diagonal arrangement. This has been said to have been inspired by a 15th century Italian cut velvet acquired by the South Kensington Museum the very same year. The fabric was printed using a technique called the Indio dye-method.
This beautiful Sweet Briar design is made up by a soft cream background. The climbing rose stems in green and soft brown with pink sweet briar roses prominent within the design. Classic of a Morris design, it’s influenced by nature and Morris’s interpretation to bring the outdoors indoors with his textiles.
Mallow was first printed in 1879. Hanging in the Croxley bedroom in the Arts & Crafts home, Standen, they also uncovered a patch of the wallpaper in the back stairs. It must have looked wonderful in the stairway, just as it does in the bedroom.
Merton was first produced in 1888. This was the first design that the company printed on rotary screens after his company, Morris & Co. moved their premises to Merton Abbey, Surrey in 1881. They were previously located in Queens Square, Bloomsbury under the name, “Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co.”
Dare we ask which is your favourite? Is it even possible to choose?
All our products are printed and manufactured in the United Kingdom. Take a look at all the products we do here!