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Who is William Morris?

Updated: 6 days ago

There are a couple of things I tend to nerd out on- one is anything about the history of design. Last March, I took my mom to England on a tour which included gardens in and around England. It is impossible for me to go anywhere without trying to maximize the experience- especially if I am traveling halfway across the world. To that end, I ensured that I had an itinerary flanking both the front and the back end of the garden part of the trip.

In my readings, I found that while we were in London, we would be a short train ride away from Bixleyheath where William Morris' "Red House" is. Built in 1860, it was a place we needed to hit while we were there. In the design world, one can't go very far without encountering some kind of influence from Morris.

William Morris Red House London

William Morris is considered a forerunner in the Arts and Crafts movement in England. We learned when we visited how fascinating a person he was (most creatives tend to be, how shall I say?......rather unique!), but to keep it simple, I am containing my discoveries to simply his home and his influence in interiors.

william morris red house london

One of the strengths of the Arts & Crafts movement was it's dedication to getting back to the beauty of artisan work. There is a simplicity of shapes & figures as seen in Frank Lloyd Wright's works. The buildings and furnishings themselves were particularly rectilinear in form- but wall coverings and textiles tended to be rather flowery and complex in patterns. This is where William Morris comes in. He produced several patterns that have stood the test of time within the Arts and Crafts movement. While the structure of his home is gothic in nature- everywhere you look within the house you can see evidence of the. type of work he produced.

william morris red house london

Visiting Morris' commune-type house provided new insight into the man as a person. Throughout the house, Morris created repetitive patterns in the ceilings and outlined them with pinprick holes so that any visitor could participate in the art within the house by following the pin hole patterns with paint. A walk through the house reveals many patterns still unpainted. Morris had an idyllic view of providing a place where artists could gather and produce art in many forms for free. It worked for a short time. But much like anything else in life, they required funds to keep the grounds up and running and they simply couldn't produce that. Sadly, within 4 years of building his compound, Morris decided he needed to sell and move back to the city- which he did, but not without leaving behind a beautiful example of the place where he created his art and several others did as well.

William Morris Red House London

While William Morris was alive in the 1800's, his work has stood the test of time. We recently used a William Morris wallpaper in a bathroom remodel and love seeing his designs pop up with some of our favorite retailers. Below are a few William Morris items that we love. What do you think? Would you use his prints in your space?

Check out the link here and here to learn more about William Morris and his works.

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