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William Morris

20 July 2015 09:00

Possibly the most widely-known name of all designers is that of William Morris.  'Everyone' has heard of him and many would recognise one of his most iconic designs, Chrysanthemum:.

Many people also know his famous saying, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."


William Morris was born in 1834 and died in 1896.  He trained as an architect and was an artist, printer, typographer, bookbinder, craftsman, poet, writer and socialist activist.  But he is best known as a designer of textile and wallpaper designs, many of which are still available today.  He was a leading member of the Arts and Crafts Movement, which was a reaction against the Industrial Revolution.  Then, as now, many people began to feel that industrialization and mass-production were destroying the environment in which traditional skills and crafts could prosper.  They advocated a reurn to the skills and quality of hand-crafted goods.  Of course, the great benefit of mass-production is the price.  No craftsman can compete with a machine on price.   Morris wanted everyone to be able to own individually-created goods, but this wasn't realistic, and only the well-off could afford to buy from craftsmen.

The great legacy of the Arts and Crafts Movement was their understanding of design.  Morris believed that nature was the perfect example of God's design; his designs are based on nature.  He aimed to apply the values of fine art to commercial design, an important stage in the development of design.  These days, even the most functional of objects is created with good design in mind.

Strawberry Thief

William Morris was one of the great pattern designers.  If you're planning to create your own designs for digital fabric printing, you could do worse than use William Morris's designs for inspiration.