Decor & Decorum

Printed Textiles in the 20th Century

Printed textiles have been used extensively for interior furnishings and dress fabrics. The fact that printed designs could be made fairly quickly by block printing, screening or roller printing and less expensively than woven fabrics, has made them a fertile ground for experimentation of both design and colour.

In the late 19th century interest in this historical printing method was revived by William Morris and the Arts and Crafts designers and was continued into the 20th century throughout Europe and North America by avant garde designers for industrial manufacture and often by individuals interested in craft production as an antidote to industrial production. Thus the names associated with 20th century printed textiles are often forward thinking influential designers, and the actual designs strong and interesting. Printed textiles have been designed by many of the leading artists and designers of the 20th century because they are a canvas for for design and exploration.

There is a body of research and literature on historic printed textiles, particularly related to the toiles de Jouy, but there are only just beginning to be investigations into the 20th century. This research moves beyond identifying the names and designs of the great designers, as it will investigate their relationships with the manufacturers who specialized in commissioning these designs. It traces these designs from the production to the marketing in local department stores as well as specialty fabric shops and links with interior designers. It will examine the interior decorating magazines that promoted these designs and try to unpack the nuances between what was presented to the consumer and how the consumer decorated their domestic space.

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