Archives: reading press releases for fabric collections that include what are described as ‘archival prints’ prompts me to think about these fascinating hunting grounds for inspiration. How lucky we are (both textile designers and us ‘civilians’? ‘non-designers’? or the more prosaic ‘shoppers’?) that these historical resources are kept for us, ready to be viewed should we decide to take an interest in their subject.
The Victoria & Albert Museum has several archives which are open to the public on request, including one relating to furnishing textiles within in the Art & Design Archive. Here you’ll find records of popular fabrics sold in department stores such as Heals from the 1920s onwards:
[Image: page from a sample album, Heals, 1922, V&A Archives]
…plus the archives of individual designers including two of my favourites, Lucienne Day and Jaqueline Groag. The current passion for Mid Century design means that 1950s fabric and wallpaper designs by luminaries such as Lucienne Day and Jacqueline Groag and their contemporary Robert Stewart are a talking point once again. The typical ’50’s design includes geometry, inventive colour contrasts and graphic, repetitive patterns: perfect for today’s decorative schemes.
Take a look at these images, reproduced from the V&A archives:
Mainly blues; some pictorial; others graphic:
And there are patterns in pastel shades:
Plus ones in those sludgy hues, typical of the 1950’s:
And some fresh white/green combinations which make me think of stereotypical ’50s housewives with their aprons and Formica-topped tables:
[image Picture Post/Getty, via The Guardian online]
[All print images, Memory Prints]
Whilst some 1950s fabric designs can be bought by the metre: try Glasgow’s Classic Textiles for a collection of original Lucienne Day and Robert Stewart designs (recreated with the consent of the designers and/or their estate) sadly not all are currently in production.
But if you like any of these patterns above, it’s possible to order a paper print: the V&A’s prints are available online through Memory Prints, who reproduce these (and many more) onto high quality paper, ready for framing; a simple way to bring a colourful, patterned piece of Mid Century artwork into your home.
To visit the V&A’s archive click here for more information.