Picking Prints with Morris & Co.

Picking Prints with Morris & Co.

Ever wondered how the iconic prints of Morris & Co. are transformed from wallpaper to plates? To unveil the secrets, we sat down for a cup of tea with Ellie Tyerman, Morris & Co.’s Senior Licensing Designer, to find out. We also discovered the inspiration behind our new collection and her top tips for styling it at home. Intrigued? Read on to find out more. 

Image credit: Morris & Co. 

Can you tell us a little about Morris & Co.?

Morris & Co. is William Morris’ original company that first started in 1861. William Morris was not only a textile designer, but he was also an environmentalist, a socialist and a poet. He was most well-known for his direction in the arts and crafts movement, being a prevalent designer at that time. Morris was mainly inspired by the outdoors and was very focused on bringing the outdoors in. A concept Spode has really captured in our latest collaboration. 

William Morris’ archive is so vast; how do you choose which patterns to hero in a new collection?

We have such an amazing archive here at Morris & Co., made up of over 200,000 documents that feature the original designs drawn by William Morris himself over 200 years ago. It is an invaluable resource for our designers, and we use it daily. Sometimes we go in with no inspiration at all, and one design can just jump out to us at that moment, and that will be the leader of the whole collection. There are so many great designs, logbooks, and printer blocks to be inspired by you don’t know when you walk through the doors what you’re going to come out with. 

Image Credit: Morris & Co.
Image Credit: Morris & Co.

How does a new collection go from initial patterns to the final product?

When we pull out a design from the archive to use, they are William Morris’ first wallpapers that he printed with his original woodblocks. Some of the old print blocks have over 30 different colours that require 30 different blocks, so our designers must use their expertise to reduce the number of colours so they’re suitable for modern printing methods. And then when we come to work on the collection with Spode, we recolour and rescale the designs to suit the manufacturing process of the ceramics. 

Tell us about the new Morris & Co. by Spode tableware collection

We are so excited about our new collection of dinnerware with Spode. It is an amazing partnership that we have held together for over 10 years. Morris & Co. and Spode are both proud British brands with a combined history of over 400 years, so it’s truly amazing to work together. The new SS23 range was inspired by our Simply Morris collection, which features brighter, fresher colours. We wanted to bring something new and exciting to the table that Morris lovers will adore.

The Fruit design featured in the collection is really special, it is one of Morris's first original wallpapers that was designed in 1864. The fruit and the fruit leaves on the design mirror that of the classic Strawberry Thief design, which is iconic. These two designs really work well together. We also have the Marigold design in the gold colour that really brings out the pops of colours across the whole collection.  

There was no question that Strawberry Thief would be featured, it is such a special design for us. The pink and fresh green colourway really adds to the fresh maximalist trend that we design to at Morris & Co. This is our first linen launch with Spode and featuring Strawberry Thief across them was a must. The linens also feature the amazing Willow print that is a little simpler - we added in a gold edge to link with the rest of the collection, and it pairs well with the more iconic designs. We’ve also got a wonderful, scalloped edge on the plates. We really wanted to add more depth and detail to this collection and Spode has done an amazing job at accomplishing that. 

When we work with the design team at Spode it’s always very collaborative. Spode visit our archive and we show them the new collections that we are launching that year, but it was very easy with this tableware collection to decide which designs we wanted to champion. The colourways we have used are very new and something different, and it’s very exciting to see it all come together at the end. 

Did you have a certain interior style in mind when creating this collection? 

We designed this collection to be super usable. You can layer the designs in different ways, which is so inspiring and really adds to that maximalist trend that we really wanted to bring across with this collection. We’ve got a beautiful multi-colour design with the Fruit pattern that features on the cereal bowl, side plate and pasta bowl, and with Strawberry Thief that features on both the tableware and linen. And there are also two-colour prints with the Marigold and Standen designs in yellow and green that bring a little bit of relief but also add to the story as you build up the collection on your table. 

William Morris was all about affordable art for all. So, we wanted this collection to be super usable and have something for all styles. There is something for the traditionalist, such as the classic Strawberry Thief, and you can layer the plates exactly how you want. You can use all the same if you want a full maximalist look or you can layer the patterns altogether to create a playful table setting. We wanted to give people the chance to explore their creativity, go mad, have a lot of fun, and layer the pieces together - any combination will be the right one, we’ve designed it so all the patterns and colours work together so you can’t go wrong.  

What are your top tips for styling the new collection?

You can be super playful with how you create your table setting. I would always start with a base layer, so our new linens are perfect for having that base pattern to break up your table or really starting to inspire you on how to build it up. You can’t really go wrong with the patterns and colours in the collection that draw it all together. We have lots of different mugs in the collection too that really add to that maximalist pattern.

This fresh maximalist assortment of pattern will help to give you the confidence to express yourself at home and inspire you to be creative when designing your own table settings at home.