The William Morris Effect

The William Morris Effect

Here at Dancys we have a huge appreciation for William Morris. Who doesn’t? And if you don’t yet you really should.

What’s not to love? The design, the patterns, the colours, the man himself… probably the most influential print designer of all time.

Born in London in 1834, he was influential as a writer, a poet, an artist, a socialist, a philosopher, a political theorist, a designer, an architect and a historian; he even found time to set up The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. When he wasn’t educating and changing society he was an integral designer of the Arts and Crafts movement and was working with his community of close friends and other artists to create the beautiful wallpapers and textiles which are as exciting today as they were to Victorian society back then.

The very first wallpapers he designed were created in 1864 using wood blocks which had been cut into basic shapes. To begin with he only had 3 wallpaper prints, the now famous ‘Daisy’, ‘Fruit’ and ‘Trellis’ which were then improved and developed over the years as new styles were also introduced. Apparently his inspiration came from the gardens and wild hedgerows of England, a mix of randomness and the beauty of nature. He went on to design tiles, ceramics, fabrics and textiles as well as furniture. In total he designed 46 wallpapers including the recognisable Strawberry Thief, Iris and Wreath.

His work is the basis of inspiration to a spectrum of designers, a credit to his ability to create prints that still feel fresh and versatile 150 years on. He has influenced the catwalk collections of Tory Burch, Dries Van Noten and Ostwald Helgason, only this year he inspired the Menswear collection for Etro at Milan fashion week where they showcased a jaw dropping array of colourful prints to be worn in smart or casual looks, the William Morris stamp clearly there for all to see.

The William Morris gallery has done numerous collaborations with artists and companies, all part of their mission to keep his legacy alive, only recently they collaborated on a collection with high street giant Jigsaw. Next up is fashion brand House of Holland, soon to release their as yet unseen Morris inspired range.

We even have our own Morris inspired print at Dancys aptly named ‘The William’ which was part of our first collection, no doubt there will be more Morris from us in the future. If you have not yet experienced the Morris effect then go to the gallery in Walthamstow or browse some ceramics at the V&A, or buy a William Bow-Tie from us and let a bit of Morris into your life.