The designs of Owen Jones

The designs of Owen Jones
March 4, 2015 Richard Humphries

In 1966 when I first joined the design studio at Warner & Sons Ltd, I soon became aware of the designer Owen Jones (1809-1874).

We retained original sketches and painted versions of his textile designs. On the studio bench sat a worn and battered large bible of all things in design, with the cover missing. After some time I discovered this was in fact an original copy of “The Grammar of Ornamernt” by Owen jones. What a great Joy this volume was to me as a young would-be designer to see the detailed styles and architectural disciplines shown in such fine detail. The book was one of two copies held by Warner’s, the second being in absolutely pristine condition, in its original Dark Magenta boxed dust cover, which we never touched realising even then, the value of it.

Owen Jones

Pictured Here; A more recent copy of “The Grammar of Ornament” we hold in our studio. 

The sketches and designs were well thumbed with rulings for point papers which showed the draft points set for them. In 1968 in preparation for the firms Centenary Exhibition in 1970 we began to select woven textiles to show to reflect the company’s history. Owen Jones designs had been woven in the early days of Warner’s development, but at the end of Owen Jones life. Whilst selecting designs to show it was decided to create a stock range to celebrate his time as a designer and the Warner connection. Some would be in print, some in top woven qualities, and some Jacquard woven in base qualities. I worked on the design “Stanhope” which was to imitate Owen Jones original design which featured metallic gold tissue on crimson and black. Our new version was to feature a gold supported Lurex on a ground of apple green and natural silk.

345 Stanstead Damask Owen Jones

Pictured: A black and white image of our Stanstead Damask, based on the drawings of the “Stanhope Design”. 

This range although launched alas was never to be as in 1971 the closure of the factory was announced ending one hundred years of manufacturing.  The original sketches and the studio copy of Grammar of Ornament were sold a year later at Christies and Owen Jones masterpiece of the “Stanhope” made £260. The Warner Archive still has many woven samples of Owen Jones designs and we also have some patterns based on his original works. His time between Pugin and Morris is captured in the line of his work and shows the move into the late Victorian Arts and Crafts era.