Recently one of our lovely customers asked us why Robyn named her business ‘The Strawberry Thief’ – we thought it might be a good time to take a look at the history of this iconic design, and explore why it means so much to us!
During the 1890’s, Liberty’s established strong relationships with independent artisans who were part of the Arts and Crafts movement. Liberty’s primary designer, Archibald Knox was both instrumental in the growth of the Arts and Crafts movement and Art Nouveau in Britain and at Liberty, and he sought out other talented designers to be taken under Liberty’s wings. Collaborations with these artists resulted in beautiful fabrics, wall papers and furniture designs that all reflected the tenets of these movements – soon the name “Liberty” itself became synonymous with these movements, so much so that Art Nouveau was actually known as “Stile Liberty” in Italy.
William Morris (24 March 1834 – 3 October 1896) A major contributor to the revival of traditional British textile arts and methods of production, Morris was a founding and prominent member of the celebrated Arts and Craft movement. Morris was commissioned by Arthur Liberty numerous times in the late 1800’s to design for Liberty. Lodden, Strawberry Thief and Mortimer – plus many more iconic Liberty designs – all came out of this period. His style also influenced the feel and design of many fabrics to come, and his designs have been thoughtfully recoloured and reinterpreted for Liberty throughout the last century….
Click here to shop all of our William Morris designed Liberty Prints and reinterpretations.
The Strawberry Thief Design
Our shop borrows its name from the 1883 Morris print design, Strawberry Thief. This delightful and colourful design is a repeat pattern featuring the cheeky thrushes that Morris found stealing fruit in his kitchen garden of his countryside home. Liberty Fabrics first produced Strawberry Thief as a furnishing fabric, but it has since been redrawn for Tana Lawn on a smaller scale, appearing on Classic Tana since 1955. It has served as the inspiration for several new, beautiful reinterpretations of the design throughout the years.
Today, the Strawberry Thief print remains one of Liberty’s most iconic and popular prints… and is of course one of Robyn’s favourite designs. When Robyn was picking the name for her shop that would help supply everyone the most delicious Liberty fabric, Robyn likened herself to the little Robin bird – picking the biggest, best and freshest strawberry fruits off the vine to share with everyone! So this name just felt like the right fit – and over the years it has always been an interesting conversation starter!
Here are some of the previous colour ways and bespoke interpretations of this beautiful design….
And here are some designs, past and present, that have been inspired by the pattern of mirrored birds as seen in Strawberry Thief…