Archivist’s Edit Sneak Peek

    Please enjoy this sneak peak at the Liberty Archivist’s Edit Collection, which should be arrive with us in early April! Make sure you are signed up to our newsletter to find out as soon as the Collection lands with us!

    The Archivist’s Edit is curated by legendary archivist Anna Buruma, the protector and custodian of Liberty’s design history for over 20 years. Encompassing 20 beautiful prints, the capsule collection shines a light into the more unusual and lesser-known corners of Liberty’s archive. Fragile fragments and half-forgotten artworks are regenerated into new designs by the in-house artists, drawing inspiration from Buruma’s favourite periods within the brand’s 145-year timeline as well as from across her own life and history.


    This Liberty archive design of doodled lines and painted splashes was first printed at Liberty’s Merton Print Works in 1953, and is greatly influenced by the abstract expressionist painting style of the period.

    “I was drawn to this print as it reminded me of the patterned curtains in my childhood home in The Hague, chosen by my mother.” – Anna Buruma, Head Archivist


    Opera Carousel is based on a print from 1951, created by a French design company for Liberty. We have many swatches in our archive that do not show the complete print – instead requiring a little bit of imagination to create the full picture.

    “This rather eccentric conversational design of tumbling ships, spaceships and creatures among flowers is typical of the joyful side of 1950s design. It has been adapted and brought up to date by the Liberty design studio with quirky additions such as an octopus – one of my favourite creatures.” – Anna Buruma, Head Archivist


    Camberwell Peacock is based on a beautiful but badly damaged watercolour Liberty design originally created for furnishing fabrics. Found in the archive torn and crumpled, it was rescued and conserved by students on the Camberwell School of Art paper conservation course – the design has been redrawn and adapted to work as a dress fabric.

    “The students did a wonderful job of saving this piece so that it could again be an inspiring piece for our designers. We have now embarked on a major project of protecting our collection of pattern books, to keep them safe for future generations.” – Anna Buruma, Head Archivist


    Archive Allsorts celebrates Liberty’s large archival collection of books with fabric swatches. The design takes a small leaf design from one book as its ground, as well as hand-written labels from many others – all combined into a beautiful new pattern.

    “As a designer I have always been intrigued by the labels and fascinated by the variation in their style, as well as their exquisite handwriting. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to celebrate these often-overlooked items within our archive.” – Ffion Griffith, Senior Designer


    To create Ikat Neats the Liberty studio designers looked into the archive and drew various elements from pages in different 19th century pattern books, combined to create a vibrant modern check design.

    “Spending time with Anna to select her favourite neats from within this archive book was a real joy. As our collection grew, so did the final patchwork – which holds the richness of Liberty pattern history and inspiration.” – Ffion Griffith, Senior Designer


    Crochet is taken from a small drawing in a mid-19th century pattern book of designs – the Liberty designers felt it was surprisingly modern for a design that is almost 200 years old.

    “The interlocking structure of this design immediately reminded me of knitted fabric. Crochet cleverly combines a geometric with a floral motif in a visually striking way.” – Ffion Griffith, Senior Designer


    Floral Paving is inspired by a 1860s pattern book discovered in our archive, intricately redrawn and refined in the in-house Liberty design studio.

    “Our archive harbours many designs such as this which we feel need minimal alteration as they are already so charming. We work on ensuring the design is printable, and that as much small detail as possible can be preserved in the final design.” – Ffion Griffith, Senior Designer


    Throughout the ages, the lilac flower has often appeared in Liberty print – Lilac Revival is based on a pattern in an 1860s pattern book, redrawn and rescaled by the Liberty design team.

    “When creating a new repeat from a motif, we often look back at successful archive examples – for Lilac Revival, we revisited our iconic Archive Lilac print.” – Ffion Griffith, Senior Designer


    The foliage of Into The Leaves is loosely based on a branching design from a mid-19th century archival Liberty pattern book. The Liberty designers created a completely new leaf layout, which will complement classic Liberty prints such as Glenjade and Willow Wood.

    “Often a small painting emerging from the corner of a page will catch one’s eye and capture one’s imagination.” – Anna Buruma, Head Archivist


    Sunrise Sunset was drawn from a pattern book of small paintings and print impressions. It consists of paisley style jagged floral spots in double layers, which our designers found evocative of glowing dawn and dusk light over water.

    “This abstracted floral spot chosen by Anna has such a striking contemporary appearance that it was a surprise to learn it was actually from the 19th century.” – Ffion Griffith, Senior Designer


    Woven Spots is a lively check, created by the Liberty studio designers from a small pattern discovered in an archival book of print impressions.

    This book is probably from the Littler print works in Merton, which Liberty took over in 1904 – the blocks that were used for printing these designs would have been taken over along with the works.” – Anna Buruma, Head Archivist


    Eri’s Party is based on several swatches discovered in a 1920s French pattern book, capturing a sense of exuberance with its multi-patterned flowers and spots.

    “The bright colours on dark grounds are very typical of 1920s design, and perhaps reflect the mood of frantic partying at that period.” – Anna Buruma, Head Archivist

    While creating Deco Paisley, the Liberty design team drew inspiration from a group of swatches found in a 1920s French pattern book in the archive.

    “Creating a design based on such a small fragment was an ambitious task set by Anna. To me the fragments lent themselves to the beginnings of beautifully detailed, flowing paisley shapes – the medium of ink helped preserved the tonality visible in the original archive pieces.” – Ffion Griffith, Senior Designer


    Chintz refers to the hand-painted cotton fabrics imported from India in the 17th and 18th centuries, which were hugely influential on design in Europe – Floral Chintz is inspired by an early example of Liberty’s chintz furnishing fabrics, reworked to contemporary effect in the London design studio.


    “In Reflections we extracted the small blossoms and petal shaped elements from the original print to create this intriguing floral print that invites you into its depths.” – Ffion Griffith, Senior Designer


    Based on a fragment of design in the Liberty archive from 1972, the colours and the placement of the fruit and flowers in this artwork are reminiscent of the glorious Dutch flower paintings of the 17th century, particularly the work of Rachel Ruysch.

    “We wanted to create a design full to the brim with floral elements, in homage to Rachel Ruysch’s paintings. The expressive hand used in the original give it a contemporary feel – a modern interpretation of the Dutch Floral theme.” – Ffion Griffith, Senior Designer


    Created from a pattern in a book of archival print impressions, Fan Fare is evocative of opulent London theatre interiors. Our designers repeated the delicate swagged motif to accentuate its scalloped nature – the tiny sparkly dots and detail giving the design an almost lace-like quality.

    “I used to be a theatre designer, and later a costume designer in TV and film. There is a style of swagged design that I quite like that reminds me of parties and festivals – perhaps because they are quite theatrical, with the feeling of draped curtains.” – Anna Buruma, Head Archivist


    Lizzy Rose is loosely based on a selection of swatches discovered in a 19th century Liberty pattern book. The print is of swags and garland of roses, transformed by the Liberty design team into a pretty and timeless Liberty floral.

    “This design brings us full circle from Anna’s theatrical background with these floral swags to classic Liberty. It is a great example of what this collection is trying to tell: a marriage between the archive and the design studio.” – Ffion Griffith, Senior Designer


    Cardamom features swags and garland of roses, transformed by the Liberty design team into a classic one-colour Liberty floral. It is loosely based on a selection of swatches discovered in a 19th century archival pattern book.

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