It is the launch the interiors world has been waiting for ever since it was first rumoured that such creativity was afoot. I don’t think it would be overcooking it to say that The Queen Square Collection between Morris & Co and architectural design and interior Decorator Ben Pentreath is one of the most exciting interior brand collaborations in recent times. The collection of 18 recoloured William Morris wallpaper and 18 fabric designs has been styled and photographed at Ben’s beautiful and famously ‘grammed Dorset rectory.
The genius of William Morris designs is that they never date and can be used in both contemporary and traditional settings. They continue to delight and reassure us for their stylish homeliness and connection to nature. Now with Ben Pentreath’s vision, the designs are going to not only receive a new audience but I suspect a reacquaintance and falling in love with William Morris designs generally.
What is the secret behind Morris’ designs?
To find out what makes Morris’ designs so enduring I spoke to industry expert Jaine McCormack, who was Head of Design at Sanderson, later becoming designer and creative director behind the very successful Guy Goodfellow Collection. Jaine is now a freelance artist and designer in Oxfordshire:
Back to nature
Jaine says,”It is the subject matter which is overwhelmingly key, taken from the natural world but with a simplicity that hides remarkably clever pattern repeats. These are maybe the secret, just soft enough to be easy on the eye but rigorously geometric underneath.
“This enables the designs to work fabulously well as papers, much harder to do than a fabric repeat where folds and undulations can mask a clumsy repeat.
“The other aspect of the Morris legacy that continues to speak to us is his rejection of automated processes and his love of hand printing, wooden blocks being carved from fruit wood, use of natural dyes and development of indigo printing. All remarkably current again.
“I am so thrilled that Ben Pentreath has been asked to recolour some Morris classics. When I was Head of Design at Sanderson from 1996-2001, we were constantly looking at ways to keep the Morris legacy relevant.
“We printed some of the designs on velvet or on a course linen for example. Recolouring has always been important but always with a nod to the original colour samples still very much in existence in the Sanderson/Morris archive.”
William Morris thread
Even with the vagaries of interior fashion, a thread of William Morris design has woven its way through our homes for the best part of a century. The designs are a favourite with set decorators from television (EastEnders, Berlin Babylon) to film (My Fair Lady, Red Joan – decorated by Tanya Bowd) as well as with interior designers and home makers.
As an 11 year old I sought out a piece of Morris fabric to cover a storage stool our woodwork teacher got us to make at school. Fast forward a few years, I was lucky enough to style an interiors feature for Marie Claire magazine where Morris again became the focus of the set I designed. Then followed a commission to create contemporary rooms for William Morris and Morris & Co by Lucia van Der Post, a book published by the V&A.
Queen Square collection
The Queen Square collection is named after the square in Bloomsbury that housed the first Morris & Co factory and showroom. It also happens to be the area where Ben Pentreath lives when he is in London.
Morris new colours
The amount of new colourways in the new collection depends on the design but just to give you an idea, you can look forward to five in the Willow Bough design: Pink/Leaf Green (as in the swatch below), Sky/Leaf Green, Bitter Chocolate (and this is de-lish, have got my eye on this one), Tomato/Olive and a 1970s-inspired Olive/Turquoise and one new colourway in Blackthorn called Autumn.
Blog tour of the Queen Square Collection
Without further ado, here is a blog tour of Ben’s beautiful Dorset rectory with some highlights from the new Queen Square Collection launching at Morris & Co on Tuesday, 15th September 2020:
The drawing room
The dining room
For more Arts & Crafts design, you might like to take a look at:
Get a handle on it
Kelmscott Manor is currently a ‘sleeping beauty’, closed for planned conservation work funded by the National Lottery Fund and will hopefully be ready to re-open in 2021.
Thank you so much for reading. Thank you too to The Style Library for the privilege of early press access to the new collection images.
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With many thanks,