Morris the Original Maximalist

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be beautiful or believe to be useful”, William Morris, Victorian poet, radical socialist, philosophical polymath and father of the Arts and Crafts Movement. He saw seeking beauty as a radical act and described art as our “expression of joy in labour”. Three cheers to that I say! It’s hard not to notice the recent resurgence of interest in the work of William Morris, perhaps as a result of a number of things. A six million pound lottery-funded refurbishment of his Oxfordshire home, Kelmscott Manor, a home described by Morris as “Heaven on Earth”, opened this month; the recent Edinburgh “Art of Wallpaper” exhibition; a new range of Morris luxury paint colours (due to arrive in store later this month); and the arrival of ‘Fresh Maximalism’, where contemporary designers have mixed fresh twenty-first century colours with classic patterns from the Morris archives.


In the arts, maximalism is an aesthetic of excess and a reaction against minimalism. The philosophy can be summarised as "more is more", in contrast to the minimalist motto "less is more”. In interior design terms, this does not mean hoarding useless objects or simply overdoing it. It means embracing colour and pattern in new and interesting ways. As a simple rule of thumb, you can mix your patterns as much as you like, both in scale and density, as long as you have a unifying colour palette that you stick to with discipline. There is nothing random about maximalism and it’s fair to say that William Morris was the original maximalist as he cast patterns within patterns on meandering repeats rising upwards and emulating the woodlands and flowering vines of the natural world. Both the big picture and the detail are given equal attention and are ever so carefully crafted together.

Morris was also a man of contradictions: a radical socialist designing for the elite. One of his enduring contributions was that every hand that made the art was to be acknowledged and named. This was about the meaning of making being democratic and fair and what we now know as the Arts and Crafts Movement. His Daughter, May, followed in his footsteps and became a recognised artist in her own right, designing jewellery and wallpaper and heading up the embroidery department of her father’s firm. May had a flair for translating natural forms into repeating patterns that matched her father’s. After his death May left the family firm but remained a passionate advocate of the arts and crafts, building a memorial hall at Kelmscott Manor, collating his archives for future generations, and like minded designers continue to draw upon these resources today. Inspiration generally At Drew Decor Store we have a great collection of Morris Wallpaper and Fabrics that include both designs from archival material and newer twenty first century interpretations, in particular Fresh Maximalism. We also have the imminent arrival of the new Morris Paint range: Forty chalky textured shades drawn from archival colours.



If you enjoyed this blog please hit reply and tell us! If there is a topic you would like us to cover tell us that too! Top Tip: To get a better understanding of #FreshMaximalism watch Sophie Robinson’s Dream Home Makeovers on channel five catch up. Want to find out more? Make an appointment with one of our designers to come into the store at 910 Ecclesall Road, Sheffield S11 8TR for a free discovery session and to see our great collection of top brand wallpapers, paints, and fabrics. We offer a full interior design service using mood boards and interior visualisations or an expertly guided ‘design it yourself’ option. We would love to show you all the ways we can help make your interior even more beautiful.


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