If you haven’t heard of the Victorian print designer William Morris our guess is you’re from a different generation to us in ebo towers (Gen Z we’re looking at you!) Morris created over 600 designs for wallpaper and textiles so influential they’re still being used today.
His patterns were observations of - and love letters to - the natural world. Look closely at ebo’s packaging and you’ll see Morris’ influence all over it. It’s not just his designs, though. We also love him as a forerunner of environmentalism, founder of the Arts and Crafts movement and champion for beauty for all: “I do not want art for a few, any more than education for a few, or freedom for a few.”
“In the UK especially, Morris' patterns are almost like a subconscious part of our design psyche – many of us grew up with his patterns without realising it,” says Claire Valis, creative director of Morris &. Co., the interiors company Morris founded in 1861.
So, while you may not have heard his name until now, we’d bet money you’ve seen Morris' prints and felt his influence before. Here’s a list of Morris inspired gems we love from recent times.
H&M’s newly launched autumn capsule collection with Morris & Co. matches pussy-bow blouses, shirts, scarves, knits and roll-neck dresses with the heritage brand’s archive prints. We say: Morris patterns you can wear!
Dutch brand Moooi developed The Museum of Extinct Animals, a range of sumptuous wallpapers, by searching museum archives around the world for drawings of now extinct animals. The designs are made as a reminder that, as Marcel Wanders, co-founder of Moooi puts it, "So much of what has lived is lost and can only live in our memories and imagination." Species featured include the dodo, blushing sloth, armoured boar, flying coral fish and blooming seadragon.
Sarah Perry’s novel The Essex Serpent took the book world by storm. At that sweet spot between a page-turning read with compelling characters and literary-style writing, copies flew off the shelf and it was named Book of the Year by Waterstones and at the British Book Awards. The novel’s cover was a show-stopping Morris-inspired design by Peter Dyer; the perfect match for this riveting read which dealt with two of Morris’ preoccupations: nature and socialism.
(Perry’s latest book, Melmoth, is a highlight of this year’s literary calendar and features the same mix of gothic intrigue and literary appeal as Serpent; Perry has a Phd in the Gothic.)
William Morris is a huge inspiration for ebo and featured heavily on our mood boards when we were working on our packaging design. We created a different pattern for each product and have tried to relate each one to the individual natural ingredients in each formulation. Latticework overlays reference the structure in nature and our skin science.
Step into the V&A’s Morris room and be transported back in time. Not only can you immerse yourself in the setting’s rich blue-green scheme, created by Morris in 1886, but you can also enjoy an authentic recreation of Queen Victoria’s afternoon tea. The menu was developed by food historian Natasha Marks and incudes Mrs Beeton’s cucumber sandwiches, Indian ham sandwiches and fruit sconelets with a choice of teas.
Which Morris inspired designs do you love?
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As adults, we stop doing so many activities which, as children, brought us feelings of happiness, joy, excitement and enthusiasm - doing something just for fun with no particular end goal.
Our Favourite 5: Inspirational reads for January including a 'Mind Makeover' with Sharron Lowe; a farming experiment/account of the ecology of our countryside by Isabella Tree; a surprisingly readable study of sleep (including webs made by sleep deprived spiders) from Matthew Walker; 80 wellbeing recipes from Dale Pinnock and an inspirational biographical tale from artist/mother turned surfer Wilma Johnson.