The enduring appeal of William Morris
There are few British designers as popular as William Morris, both in his own lifetime and today. With endless licensing deals, his pattern designs are now ubiquitous, appearing on teatowels, clothes and water bottles.
His first venture into business with fellow artists was in 1861, producing wall paintings and embroidered hangings. By 1875, he had expanded into printed and woven fabrics, wallpaper, carpets and tapestries, which he produced in his own factory. In 1891 he set up the Kelmscott Press and designed medieval illuminated books and typefaces.
Morris famously said, ‘Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.’ He believed that well-made, hand-crafted products were superior to mass produced items and so founded the Arts and Crafts Movement as a reaction against the increasing industrialisation of his time.
But why is his work still relevant?
The natural world is still an aesthetic that people strongly relate to, and no-one has captured it quite like Morris. His designs have become so entrenched in British visual culture, that they are now considered classics and have had several revivals throughout the last 120 years. The principles behind their creation are still sound - that good quality is of the utmost importance and that everyone should have access to it.
To find out more check out The William Morris Society.
Until next time creative crew,
Credit: Birds fabric, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Credit: Tiles by Morris, University of Maryland CCBYNCND2.0