Jane McGuire

7 textile designers who changed the world

7 textile designers who changed the world

First published date November 26 2015 Amended date February 03 2016

Without textile design, the world would be a much plainer place. With the power to inspire a trend or style, for years our lives have been coloured by the fabrics in vogue. With this in mind, we thought there was no better way to inspire you to take a textile design course than to showcase seven designers who changed the industry.


William Morris

Image via william-morris.co.uk

Known as the ‘Father of the Arts and Crafts movement’, Morris’ floral patterns heavily influenced Victorian interior design. Good friends with Dante Gabriel Rossetti who persuaded him to first pick up the paintbrush, Morris soon turned his hand to furniture and textile design. His wallpapers, patterns and fabrics are all inspired by his love of nature and the house he decorated for his wife Jane is still visited today.


Mary White

Image via pinterest.com

One of the most iconic print makers of 1950’s, Mary White’s fabric designs shot to fame after they were featured on the Queen Mary Ocean Liner and at Heathrow Airport. Like Morris, White is also heavily inspired by nature.


Lucienne Day

Image via wordpress.com

A woman credited with adding colour back into the wardrobes of Post World War Two Britain, Lucienne Day was inspired by the likes of Kandinsky. Despite starting out designing fabrics for dresses, she quickly became influenced by the Houses for People Movement and also designed carpets, table linen and curtains.


Cath Kidston

Image via cathkidston.com

Famous all over the world for her nostalgic floral prints, Cath Kidston first started out in interior design, before having a eureka moment and setting out to design textiles with an ‘English heritage’ theme. Coining the phrase ‘modern vintage’, her pastel floral designs were instantly a success.


Laura Ashley

Image via flickr.com

The Welsh textile design company, now known worldwide as Laura Ashley, was founded by Bernard Ashley and his wife Laura. Laura began designing napkins, table mats and tea towels whilst working as a secretary, before getting inspired at a Women’s Institute display and starting to create women’s headscarves in 1953. Luckily for Laura, her business skyrocketed after Audrey Hepburn was spotted wearing one of her scarves in the film ‘Roman Holiday’ with Gregory Peck.


Terrance Conran

Image via thetimes.co.uk

The brains behind Habitat, Terrance Conran opened two manufacturing companies during the 1950s, ‘Conran furniture’ and ‘Conran fabrics’. Aiming to bring attractive, affordable designs to the masses, in 1964 he opened his first Habitat in Brompton Cross. By the end of the decade, Habitat had nine branches in the UK and a reputation for inexpensive, appealing design.


Zika Asher

Image via artesmagazine.com

Coming to England from Prague in 1939, Asher set up a small textile business in London with his wife Lida. The couple commissioned a number of leading artists such as Matisse and Henry Moore to design a collection of scarves, brightening up the drab wardrobes of Post War Britain. By 1946, they were applying fabrics to the international fashion industry and became renowned for their lively screen printed designs.


If you feel ready to get creative and try textile design, why not look at the courses listed on the site? Who knows, it might be your name on this list one day...

Jane McGuire

Jane McGuire received her BA (English) from the University of Loughborough. A yoga enthusiast with a sweet tooth, in her spare time you will probably find Jane in the gym or online shopping.