The history of William Morris


The history of William Morris

William Morris was an English textile designer, artist, writer and socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement.  Known for his prominent wallpaper designs, Morris transformed the way in which people of relatively modest means decorated their houses.


William Morris’ wallpaper designs

Morris became one of the first ‘one-stop shops’ for interior decoration.  His first wallpaper design was Trellis, a pattern inspired by the rose-trellis in the garden of his house in Kent.

The first pattern to be issued (put into production), was Daisy, a simple design of meadow flowers. Inspired by a wall-hanging illustrated in a 15th-century version of Froissart’s Chronicles and medieval ‘mille-fleurs’ tapestries together with a love of nature, Morris’ designs were not to be literal transcriptions of natural forms but subtle stylised evocations.


Morris legacy

Morris designed over 50 wallpapers, and his firm produced a further 49 by other designers including George Gilbert Scott, Kate Faulkner and J.H. Dearle.  Every pattern integrated a plant form, whether expressed in a luxuriant naturalism (identified through Acanthus, Pimpernel or Jasmine) or a more formalised style such as the sunflower. Morris maintained that the choice of wallpaper must consider, the character and function of the room.

His success in creating structured patterns from natural forms creating a subtle geometry, was his most important design legacy.


If you would like to integrate a Morris design into your home, please call or email our House of Ambience team today and they would love to help.

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