”Signed Textile” took its start in 1954 when the Swedish department store NK launched a new collection of fabrics for the expanding public sector in Sweden. The idea was to improve the status of textile design as an art form by letting the artists sign their work. The copy right regulations regarding art work at the time was still neglected. This collection consists of 21 different patterns, some of them famous Swedish design classics. Karl Axel Pehrson´s ”Delfinisk Rörelse” (”Dolphinian Movements”) is still part of Ljungbergs assortment. You can check out all the designers and see their work here.
Sven Markelius (1889-1972) was an advocate for Swedish Functionalism. Some of his most important commissions were the Students´ Union Building of the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm 1928 – 1930, the Swedish pavilion at the World Fair in New York in 1939. He was also a member of the distinguished committee of architects occupied with the creation of the UN-building in New York at the beginning of the 1960’ies. The pattern consists of a field of triangles in four different sizes. They are constantly repeated in a complex play between light and dark, big and small. The variation of the sizes gives the pattern depth and movement, an impression that is enhanced if you view it at a distance. Here it is printed on modal satin.
I’m in love with this design by Sven Markelius – read his bio here.
I saw the blue colorway at the National Museum in Sweden. Love it.
Theodor “The” Svedberg (1884-1971) was a scientist and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1926. Svedberg was an intellectual leader in culture and had a wide interest in literature. He had an extensive correspondence with August Strindberg and he was also a good amateur water-colour painter. The Svedberg participated with two patterns to ”Signed Textile”: ”Genetics” and ”Atomics”. If you know a bit about chemistry you will probably recognize the DNA of Drosophilia (the fruit fly) in the pattern ”Genetics”. ”Atomics” is a playful pattern where figures from the world of atom physics form decorative patterns in brilliant orange and rose on a black background. ”Atomics” is printed here on hardwearing pure linen.
Astrid Sampe (1909-2002) was born in Stockholm, but has her roots in Sjuhäradsbygden (Seven counties region). During the years 1928 – 32, when she attended the College of Applied Art in Stockholm, she was given the opportunity of pursuing parallel studies at the Royal College of Art in London. After having completed her education, Astrid made several journeys in Europe. It was she who set in motion the project ”Signed Textile” that was launched at NK in 1954. The aim of the project and the collection was to create materials with strict graphic patterns for public interiors, both for big theatre-curtains and for small windows in ships and trains. It was widely considered a great achievement that Sampe managed to rally so many well-known names for the collection and later on this contributed more than anything else to stress the importance of the designer behind the pattern. Earlier the designers of patterns were never given a prominent place in marketing.
Anders Beckman (1907-1967) was a pioneer in modern Swedish advertising art and a well-known poster artist. Beckman was in charge of prestigious commissions such as the marketing of the Swedish Pavilion at the world Fair in New York in 1939 and the graphic design of the Helsingborg Exhibition, H55, among other things. Anders Beckman contributed with two patterns to ”Signed Textile”: ”West Coast” and ”Smoke” (above). This was the first time that the advertising expert Anders Beckman drew patterns for textile prints. He was of the opinion that the same freedom existed when you composed a textile pattern as when you composed for advertising purposes and while the ever-present cigar in his hand sent its smoke upwards, the pattern ”Smoke” curled its way continually upwards.
Olle Eksell (1918 – 2007) made himself a name as an innovator of artistic graphic designs for utility goods during the 1950´ies. He became inspired by the American way of life, after having spent a short period at an art-school in Los Angeles. When he returned to Sweden, he started working as an illustrator, advertising expert and exhibition curator. Olle Eksell contributed with two patterns to ”Lena Horne”Signed Textile”Lena Horne”: ”Lena Horne”Lena Horne” and ”Margret Rose”. He has given both his patterns female names, because, it is said, he had two different types of women in mind: Lena Horne represents the sensuous, primitive woman and Margret Rose the romantic aristocratic. Both of these patterns are small in scale and are intended for various decorating details in public interiors.
Olle Bonniér (born 1925) belongs to a group of artists of concrete art, ”The Concretians” and he explored the principles of Concretism in theory as well as in his art. At the beginning of his career he used very bright and strong colours, but later he changed to contrasting colours, often black and white. Bonniér’s expression was non-figurative and he was interested in the dynamics of colours and forms. His sculptures in Plexi-glass and metal were produced as pure objects, concrete but non-representing. Olle Bonniér contributed with two patterns to ”Signed Textile”: ”Positive – Negative” and the pattern ”Raxt”, which has been described as follows: ”This composition sounds what it looks like: ”Raxt” – the sound of the jet-planes in black thunderbolts.” ”Raxt” is printed here on a strongly bleached cotton-canvas in black, grey and light beige.
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