“Have nothing in your house which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”
William Morris 1880
William Morris was a remarkable man, born in Walthamstow in 1834, a well-known poet, an accomplished businessman, a Socialist, a conservator of historic and ancient buildings, as well as a designer of tiles, tapestries, carpets, linoleum, stained glass, and furniture.
Today, he is best known as a designer of wallpaper and fabric. His wallpaper and fabric designs have never been out of production since he produced his first three repeating wallpapers Daisy, Trellis and Fruit in 1864.
His designs are timeless, based on natural forms and patterns, with beautiful colours and architectural shapes.
As a painter and decorator there is nothing more satisfying than hanging beautiful paper and William Morris paper is definitely on my list of top 10 wallpapers, he is also one of the people I would most like to invite to a dinner party if he was still alive today. When you look at collections from up and coming wallpaper designers you can often see the Morris influence in their designs.
The National Trust own two properties that are well worth checking out if you would like to see more examples of Morris’s work and gain inspiration for your own decorating projects. Standen, a late Victorian family home brought vividly to life in this gem of the Arts and Crafts Movement. The design of the house is a monument to the combined genius of architect Philip Webb and his friend William Morris.
All the big names of the Arts and Crafts period are represented, including ceramics by William De Morgan and metalwork by W. A. S. Benson.
Red House, the only house commissioned, created and lived in by William Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts movement, Red House is a building of extraordinary architectural and social significance. When it was completed in 1860, it was described by Edward Burne-Jones as ‘the beautifullest place on earth’. Only recently acquired by the Trust, the house is not fully furnished, but the original features and furniture by Morris and Philip Webb, stained glass and paintings by Burne-Jones, the bold architecture and a garden designed to ‘clothe the house’ add up to a fantastic place to visit.
So even when I’m not hanging wallpaper, I spend my time looking at wallpaper and planning my next project.