Liberty is my favourite department store, so I was especially excited to find out more about the connections between the iconic store and the Silver Studio, whose collection is here at the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture.
Liberty was founded by Arthur Lasenby Liberty in 1875 initially under the name East India House. A hotbed for fashion, good taste and the Pre-Raphelites, it became renowned for its imported silk, in single colours and subtle hues of blues, greens and terracotta, which became known as Liberty Art Fabrics, alongside selling imported goods from what was then considered the Far East.
Arthur Liberty understood the appetite for pattern in the late 1880s. An increasing interest in interior design, coupled with increased prosperity for the middle classes and the burgeoning popularity for what we know term the Art Nouveau style, which followed Aestheticism, saw Liberty art fabrics pop with patterns.
Patterns for textiles were bought by Liberty from the Silver Studio. The Silver Studio was established by Arthur Silver in 1880 in Brook Green, Hammersmith. The timing of the Studio was perfect; patterns for wallpapers and textiles were in high demand and between 1880 and 1910 the Silver Studio sold hundreds of designs in the Art Nouveau style to various clients across the world.
Silver Studio Designs dating from late 1800s, SD3514, SD3597, Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture.
Sketch of Peacock Feather, Silver Studio, SD9230 and Liberty Hera Fabric, ST3935b, Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture
Cotton dress fabric known as 'Runis' Crepe designed by Madeleine Lawrence of the Silver Studio and sold by Liberty in the early 1930s for 2 shillings and 11 pence per yard, ST3505, Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture
Design for silver powder box, SD8326, Design for label or stamp, SD8344, Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture
Liberty patterns have an enduring legacy; Liberty regularly re-issues designs from its archive, often re-working them for today. One of its most recent is a twist on its Art Nouveu Ianthe pattern from the 1900s.
As well as Silver Studio textile designs for Liberty, we hold a collection of Liberty catalogues and Liberty Art Fabric swatches. If you would like to visit us to see the collection up close or have any questions a then please contact us. We are open by appointment Monday to Friday and look forward to seeing you. In addition to individual appointments we can arrange group visits too, so do get in touch!