I don’t remember when I first became aware of William Morris, his art, craft, and socialist views but ever since I was a young child I have been aware of England and English style, long before I ever went there.
Acknowledged as the father of the Arts and Crafts movement, William Morris is arguably the single most influential designer of the nineteenth century, and is still one of the best known of all British designers. This is due to his extraordinary talent as a pattern designer, his colourful and inspiring life story and to his forceful intellect and personality. Morris was much more than a designer: he was a socialist, scholar, translator and publisher, an environmental campaigner, typeface designer, printer, bookbinder, writer and poet. He was fervently, energetically creative and strove to achieve mastery in a “complex vortex of crafts, art, literature and politics”.
Dismayed by the dehumanising effects of industrialisation, he championed the value of human endeavour and passionately decried the corrupting nature of of manufacturing for profit. He believed that “true artists were people who expressed themselves completely through the material they worked with, benefitting from the full value of their labours”.
I have posted some of his floral fabric and wallpaper designs (categorised under Pattern).
I also love his books and typefaces. Morris set up The Kelmscott Press in order to have total control over the finished product of his reproductions of medieval books – from designing typefaces such as Golden, Troy and Chaucer, to paper production, ink manufacture, setting and binding.
More more information
Wells, N. M., 1996, William Morris, The Life, Times and Work of the World’s Greatest Artists, Brockhampton Press, London UK