BRITISH DESIGN and the ARTS and CRAFTS MOVEMENT
There are a few great things I love about the arts and crafts movement in Britain. I discovered the first when I walked through the doors of Liberty of London and found an Aladdin's cave of
Fabrics, furniture, fashion and homewares in the most amazing Tudor revival building.
LIBERTY of LONDON
Photograph by Jacob Surlands
The building as it is today was built in the 1920s with the timber from two British ships, HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindustan, and you can still get the feeling of the wooden cabins and corridors of a 19th-century ship as you walk around the galleries today. It has three huge lightwells which are surrounded by four levels of open wooden galleries and rooms, linked by wood lined staircases that seem straight from a Dickens novel.
One of the lightwells as it was in the 60’s with oriental rugs displayed on the gallery’s handrails
Liberty as it is today, looking up to the top of the lightwell.
Photograph Merlijn Hoek
When I first visited in the 1960s the gallery’s wooden handrails were casually draped with oriental rugs and in the fabrics section the influence of William Morris and other arts and craft British textile designers was a common theme.
Bundles of Liberty cotton print for the quilters and patchworkers
Photograph from Amy Smart, Diary if a Quilter
ARTHUR LAZENBY LIBERTY
with the Shand Voyage Carriage fabric from The Secret Garden range
Photograph Liberty London
The store was founded by Arthur Lasenby Liberty in 1875
and the emporium as it is now was designed by Edwin Thomas Hall and his son Edwin Stanley Hall in the 1920’s.
The store is a must on a visit to London.
Liberty: British Colour Pattern
Produced in collaboration with Liberty, the leading destination store in London, and a unique and eclectic British emporium, this lavishly illustrated, official book, presented in a slipcase, showcases the heritage and innovation of this individualistic and one-of-a-kind department store that has served as tastemaker to the public since 1875
V&A Pattern: Liberty
Liberty charts the development of a legendary company through its textile designs, from its beginnings in the Aesthetic movement through to Art Nouveau and the late twentieth century.
The story of Liberty's is the story of design. The brand has been an international byword for style and innovation since May 1875, when Arthur Lasenby Liberty opened the doors of his Regent Street shop.
The son of a draper, Arthur Liberty (1843-1917) was inspired by the conviction that if he could only raise the capital to open his own shop, he could change the whole look of fashion in dress and interior decoration. He did exactly that.
Liberty of London: Masters of Style & Decoration
For more than one hundred years the name Liberty of London has been synonymous with the highest achievements in the decorative arts - from fabric to furniture, from carpets to ceramics. A great trading company is always affected by changes in fashion; what gives this one its remarkable distinction is that it has not just followed these changes but helped to create them since 1875.
The late 19th century and early 20th century
produced some legendary artists and designers in Britain who were part of the arts and crafts movement, formed in part as a reaction to the new industrialization of the time. Their ethos was to emphasis good design and craftsmanship in a naturalistic style which they believed was being debased with the modern mechanised production and design of the day.
Portrait by Emma Lesser, East Hampton, N.Y.
William Morris 1834-1896
I think everyone can recognize the textile designs of William Morris, the fluid botanical themes and subtle colourings that were used on everything from wallpapers, furnishing textiles to dress fabrics.
Strawberry thief cushion
Strawberry thief tapestry
A pattern that captures the essence of William Morris’s romantic style, The Strawberry thief is still being produced by Liberty as a dress fabric today over a century later.
Birds in flight mug
Tea for three, a set of three mugs or as singles on our homewares page
Morris was a leading cultural figure in Victorian Britain, a socialist, activist, novelist and poet, and it is his textile and wallpaper designs that we recognize him mostly for today.
Morris’s bold botanical patterns were designed for stylish sitting rooms and homes in the late 19th century, and their timeless quality fits ideally into the style of today.
Two other textile print designers from the 19th and early 20th century bookend William Morris’s work.
WILLIAM KILBURN 1745-1818
In the latter part of the 18th Century and the early 19th century, just before the birth of the arts and crafts movement, William Kilburn worked as a designer and producer of printed calico.
Best used together as a patchwork of patterns these classic Kilburn designs are reproduced on soft linen style cushions.
Kilburns delicate floral designs were widely copied and he was an early petitioner for copyright protection in the textile industry. His designs conjure up English country homes, high teas, and chintz and were part of the foundations from which the more stylized Arts and Crafts textile designs evolved.
Portrait by Harold Speed 1905
Architect and print designer Charles Francis Annersley Vosey 1857-1941 worked designing textiles wallpapers and furniture during his early career and later became renowned as an architect designing a number of notable country houses and for his influence on British architecture
Birds in flight tapestry
Birds in flight cushion
Voysey’s elegant design ‘birds in flight’ bridges the gap between the British arts and craft movement and the fluid style of Art Nouveau
MORE ARTS AND CRAFTS GOODIES
Birds in flight
Our notebooks measure 6”x8” with a handy pen pocket in the back cover.
Sturdy Aluminum Hand Fork and Trowel Garden Set, William Morris Green
William Morris Arts & Crafts Designs: A Folio of Notecards
William Morris 100% Cotton Gardening Potting Hand Gloves, One Size, Green
Birds in Flight boxed set of 10 greeting cards
CafePress William Morris Pimpernel Design Beach Sandals
V&A William Morris: 100 Postcards
William Morris: Artist, Craftsman, Pioneer
William Morris was an outstanding character of many talents, being an architect, writer, social campaigner, artist and, with his Kelmscott Press, an important figure of the Arts and Crafts movement.
William Morris: Décor & Design
William Morris, one of the most influential designers of the 19th century and an important figure in the Arts and Craft movement, is revisited in this inspirational interior design guide.
William Morris's Flowers
The leading figure of the Arts and Crafts Movement, William Morris (1834–1896) is one of the best-known and most popular of all British designers.
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