William Morris (English, 1834–1896)
Leicester pattern, wallpaper, before 1917
A leader of the Arts and Crafts movement—which valued handicrafts over mass-produced goods—William Morris (English, 1834–1896) was also a writer, a founder of England’s socialist movement, and a designer of typefaces, fabrics, and wallpapers. He believed that decoration, in its finest form, gives pleasure to those who use it, as well as to those who make it. So after training as an architect, he cofounded a decorating company to produce glasswork, metalwork, and countless other crafts, including many textiles he designed himself. His genius shone brightly in the design of complex, intricately repetitive patterns. His work defines the best of Victorian fashion and was important to the development of Art Nouveau. Morris’s designs are as elegant today as when they came off his drawing board.