Designing Women: Is modern print design really that modern?

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On a sunny March morning, we attended the opening of the exciting new exhibition, 'Designing Women' at the Fashion and Textiles Museum. The exhibit looks at the role of the post-war women, and their impact on the development of a particular style of textile design, which went on to influence domestic interiors across the UK.

Featured prints by Mary Warren. Image Copyright: PDD

The three most influential female designers featured, Lucienne Day, Marian Mahler and Jacqueline Groag, were given a large amount of space to show off their impactful designs. These designers were all at the forefront of international textile design in the 1950s and 1960s and have been highly influential on contemporary domestic design.

After the Second World War female designers were in the spotlight. Their geometric and abstract patterns were revolutionary in the home, with their bold prints saturated in colour marking a big change from England's traditional floral interior and fabric design. Bold prints and colours that we today associate with Finnish label Marimekko and many others are heavily inspired by their predecessors - largely the women celebrated in this exhibition.

Print by Jacqueline Groag. Image copyright: PDD

Lucienne Day's creative and avant-garde design style is what made her stand out amongst her peer-group. Although her colour choices, ultra-modernist design style and abstract visualisations were met with reticence by Heal's - her supplier and employer - they eventually took a chance on it. Her designs were used on domestic furnishings (such as wallpapers,  carpets , ceramics, table linen etc) making her a much recognised and prominent figure in the new era of British design.

Print by Jacqueline Groag. Image Copyright: PDD

Marian Mahler's talent as both illustrator and textile designer landed her a job with textile manufacturer David Whitehead in the early 1950's. The roller printing process made her design quick to reproduce on rayon or cotton, making  prices appealing to the younger and style-focussed generation. Her whimsical figures and abstract forms were representative of both of her artistic style of prints and also her textile as art.

Print by Marian Mahler. Image Copyright: PDD

Getting back to the initial  question :  Is modern print design really that modern? Through the array of prints on display at Designing Women it is clear to observe a timeless style of modernity on fabric which these women created as a design movement. Although their designs are no longer new, it's still strikingly fresh, adding a touch of future into the home via clean lines and uniform patterns.

Print by Jacqueline Groag.  Image Copyright: PDD

The Fashion and Textile museum is dedicated to show development in contemporary fashion through their exhibitions. And they deliver!

The exhibition is on to the 16th of June, for more  information  please see the Fashion & Textiles Museum website

Eili

About Eili

Title: Design Insight Intern
Languages spoken: Norwegian, Swedish, English (Spanish and French is understandable to a certain level).
The last thing that inspired me: A girl with lavender dyed hair and pastel, flower printed jeans I saw on the tube the other day. London is wicked!
My dream project: Would be a work related one that took me traveling to different parts of the world - to get to know other cultures, customs and languages. Tokyo and Hong Kong are really high on my wish list on places to go right now. 
My obsession: Big sucker for a good documentary.

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