We love things a little off the beaten track. We first became aware of this rich but lesser known archive only recently. This impressive, almost fanatical collection has been driven by one family’s love for its centuries old family textile business and design reputation.
The collection’s heritage dates all the way back to the late seventeenth century and the burgeoning textile industry of Spitalfields, London. William Warner worked as a scarlet dyer in the dark, narrow streets of the East End until his death in 1712. His sons and grandsons took up the family business. In the finest tradition of the British craftsmanship and 19th century industrial savvy, the Warner family continued to grow their skills, expand their design ambitions and take on the production of the very finest quality fabrics, brocades and velvets. In the early 20th century they consolidated their design credentials. Under the keen aesthetic eye of Alec Hunter, the company’s post-war years were defined by the designs from the likes of Marianne Straub and Frank Davies. And not to miss out on the cultural revolution of the 60s and 70s, they kept ahead of the pack in the hippest of fashion with pioneering design by Eddie Squires.
We’ve curated our favourite design and fabric samples here. We love the juxtaposition of ornate, regal, brocades next to the contemporary geometric flat designs. See how they translate into stunning posters, wall hangings and murals.
For more beautiful, decorative and exotic textiles explore our V&A collection. And the contemporary lead is taken up by Chae Young Kim, Michael Angove and Emma Jeffs.
The archive have enjoyed some ups and downs since William Warner’s descendent first rescued their immense archival resource in 1972, when the looms finally came to a stand still. But the Warner Textile Archive is happily back at the original mill buildings in Braintree, England.