Monday, 23 August 2010

William Morris Holland Park Carpet

Illustrations: William Morris. Holland Park carpet, 1883.

The carpet now popularly known as the Holland Park carpet was designed by William Morris and produced in 1883 for Alexander Ionides for his Holland Park home, hence the name of the carpet. It cost Ionides £113 and was one of the central themes of the Morris & Co decorated room that Ionides had commissioned from Morris.

The carpet itself is an outstanding example of Morris predilection for the blending of medieval and Islamic cultural pattern work. Morris himself was particularly keen on the Persian decorative arts along with those of Northern India which are, at least in someways, related. He used pattern work derived from this particular culture an increasingly regular occurence, though by no means an exclusive one, as the nineteenth century wore on. In Alexander Ionides, Morris had a willing partner as the Ionides family had strong connections and collecting sensibilities that put them on much the same wavelength as Morris and his interests in general Islamic, and Persian and North Indian influences in particular.

The Persian influence is more readily noticeable within his carpet weaving, though textiles and wallpapers were to see a blossoming of Islamic styling, at least within a Persian framework as Morris was never a particular fan of the geometric approach to pattern design. There were a number of aspects of this particular design style that appealed to Morris as well as a number of his contemporaries. The approach to pattern in its seemingly original styling without the cluttered imaginings of three dimensional imposed reality, greatly appealed to a number of individual designers and decorators. it was seen to be particularly sympathetic to flat mediums such as printed and woven textiles as well wallpapers and ceramic tile work.

Incorporating flat pattern work into legitimate decorative work took more than one form and one purpose as far as Morris was concerned. He was keen to approach carpet and rug design with the general aspect of design as non-directional as possible. He felt, with particularly good reason, that this aided interior design and decoration as the carpet could be laid without taking any real form of direction into consideration. Anyone who has had to manipulate directional carpet or rug designs within an interior will know how much harder it is to balance and harmonise furniture and accessories within the room.

The particular carpet woven for Alexander Ionides proved so popular that at least a further four were produced. The 1880s proved to be a high point for both William Morris and Morris & Co with increasing numbers of complex, but controlled design work that proved so popular that Morris patterns are still being produced to this day. However, it is perhaps with some of the examples of his larger carpet design work that Morris was to show the full range of his interests, influences and pattern theories and ideals.

Reference Links:
Art, Enterprise and Ethics: Essays on the Life and Work of William Morris: The Life and Works of William Morris
William Morris Textiles
A Hand-Knotted Hammersmith Carpet, circa 1881-2 Giclee Poster Print by William Morris, 9x12
William Morris I Area Rug, 6-footx9-foot, SAGE/GOLD
Designs of William Morris (Phaidon Miniature Editions)
William Morris: A Life for Our Time
William Morris on Art and Socialism
Garden of Delight Floral & Botanical Art Poster Print by William Morris, 26x36

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