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Inspirational Textile Designers of the last 200 years

We live in a world full of soft furnishings and fashions that are accessible to all. It was designers like the ones listed here that have really blazed this trail for us.

William Morris

William Morris is often considered as the founding father of modern textile design. Born in 1834 in Walthamstow, he loved to play out of doors and had a keen interest in nature. Morris attended the prestigious Marlborogh College where he acquired a love of architecture. However, it was whilst he was attending Exeter College Oxford that his passion for art, design, poetry and philosophy really grew. He and some friends, Edward Burne-Jones being one, started a group which would later be known as the Raphaelite Brotherhood. They would read poetry together, study art and visit English churches to admire the architecture. In 1961 Morris and become a founding member of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co, a decorative arts firm. They were heavily involved in the decoration of churches and private houses, providing carpets, embroideries, wall hangings and even stained glass windows!  Later in his life Morris established a tapestry industry at Merton Abbey Textile Factory.

Morris Cabbage and Vine tapestry

Varvara Stepanova

Varvara Stepanova, a Russian designer from fairly humble beginnings, was born in 1894. She is heavily associated with the constructivist movement, the practise of art for social purposes. It is further described as;

1920s Rodchenko and Stepanova

the combination of faktura: the particular material properties of an object, and tektonika, its spatial presence.”

Despite being poor, Stepanova managed to attend the Kazan School of Art in Odessa. The school also attended by abstract Russian painter, Kandinsky. She later rented an apartment from him where she lived with fellow artist Alexander Rodchenko. Her main passion was to unite art and industry which she achieved in the 1920’s by becoming a designer at the First State Textile Factory just outside of Moscow. She later went on to become a professor in textile design.

Mary White

Mary White, born in 1930 in the town of Margate, attended the Thanet School of Art and Crafts. Mary Whites designs became extremely popular in post war Britain and around the world. Mary cited William Morris as one of her biggest inspirations as well as the flora and fauna around her hometown. Some of her most famous designs include Coppice and Cottage Garden. As well as being involved in textiles she, along with her brother David, created Thanet Pottery. The hand painted creations of Thanet Pottery were popularly sold in many high street stores in the 1960’s. Mary later gave up design in order to focus on her family.

Cath Kidston

Cath Kidston was born in 1958 in Marylebone. Cath started out opening her own shop in London back in 1993 where she sold reclaimed and repainted junk furniture as well as vintage fabrics. She had much success with her shop and the natural progression was for her to start to design her own range of fabrics and products. Cath’s distinctive and pretty floral prints were an instant hit and are now recognisable World Wide. After substantial growth throughout the nineties and noughties, Cath sold the majority stake of her business to private equity firm TA Associates. She still remains creative director.

Cath Kidston

Vicky is an art and crafts enthusiast who works alongside Stuart Morris Ltd, textile designers and printers in the UK specialising in Cotton Bags. She loves to sew, make greetings cards and paint on canvas.


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