Pattern Inspiration: Cole & Son since 1875

After the last Textiles Inspiration post went live, I stopped to think of other great British design houses and Cole & Son popped into my mind, because I believe they once supplied wallpaper to Sanderson. Ok, so they make wallpaper but they are definitely an inspiration in surface pattern, so maybe you will let me get away with this one?

So, Cole & Son: founded in 1875 by John Perry, the son of a vicar, who first called the company John Perry Ltd. The company still maintains their original spirit using skilled craftsmen and combining the use of modern technology with some of the original processes and machinery invented and used by John Perry.

The original pattern book was produced in 1875 and are all hand block designs, Perry loved block printing and became an avid collector of the beautiful hand carved wood blocks. When he died in 1940, his family sold the business to A P Cole and Albert and Lionel Hill who were already successful wallpaper merchants. The new owners not only became proprietors of the factory and its extensive machinery and skilled crafts people but also of the extensive range of hand block designs. After acquiring the printing blocks of a company that adorned the walls of stately homes and castles, the collection was the biggest in the world and they became unstoppable. When Lionel Hill retired the business became Cole & Son LTD.

In 1949 the Design Director set up one of the first screen print studios in Europe, they printed Lucienne Day‘s designs for the 1951 Exhibition of Britain. The factory, since Perry‘s day, was also using a technique for hand flocking that is still used today and is the only factory in the world who makes flocked wallpapers in this way. This, the fact that they have held onto hand crafted techniques, have 150 years worth of beautiful archives and that they design and print the most lovely patterns — is why I find them to be such an inspiration, what about you?