Furniture, wallpaper and textile designer Morris was also among other things a writer and socialist. He was one of the leaders of the Arts and Crafts Movement in 19th century Britain. The movement promoted a return to handcrafted simple design and naturalistic forms. Flowers and other plants were drawn in an uncomplicated style with rhythmical sensual qualities. William used vegetable dyes rather the popular chemical dyes.
Morris design motif’s included:
You may ask how we ended up on the subject of Morris. I was watching a TV show which mentioned the Fabian society of which William was a member. So I started to visualise his wonderful detailed flowing designs. In many ways he was ahead of his time. I believe he would have welcomed the views of the environmental movement. The development of the Art and Craft Movement was a reaction to the industrial revolution.
Some of the colours Morris used
Often in muted tones
There were positives and negatives in The Art and Craft Movement
Like all things there were positives and negatives to this move away from factory produced items. Mass production had for the first time in history made it easier for ordinary people to have what only those with in the higher classes had been able to afford. Morris and others were concerned about the loss of craftsmanship.
‘Anyone wanting to produce dyed textiles with any artistic quality in them must forego the modern and commercial methods in favour of those that are at least as old as Pliny, who speaks of them as old in his time’ William Morris
However a similar situation arose as we have today were custom made pieces become too expensive for most people. As designers it is helpful as the great designers of the past (like Morris) to have a wider view on things. This can be a challenge in the busy world of design. I prefer more contemporary styles in pattern and furniture. But I have over the years come to appreciate and marvel at these wonderful designs.
William Morris designs are still produced today and have influenced the Art Nouveau and other styles. If he was alive today I am sure he would embrace the green, eco friendly and sustainable design mantra.
There are many websites with information on William Morris one of the best is the Morris and Co site http://www.william-morris.co.uk