"So I say our furniture should be good citizen's furniture, solid and well made...." William Morris.
We have reproduced a range of early Morris & Co furniture. This suite was originally designed by the artist Ford Madox-Brown, one of Morris's partners in 'The Firm'. It was produced in 1861, shortly after Morris built the 'Red House' and was still furnishing it with medieval inspired work. The footposts on the bed match Webb's newel posts on the back stairs at Red House, showing the cross-over of ideas between the group. Morris eventually brought the suite to Kelmscott Manor.
The work of Morris & Co. in the early Red House/ Red Lion Square days is characterised by the Gothic style, albeit in a new (or reverting to older forms of Gothic) way. The Artisan suite is typical of the work of that period. The new shapes are wonderful, even a century & a half later & they still look original. The wardrobe was one of our designs, to match in with the suite. One version is shown above with a Medieval 'roof' on top, typical of the early Gothic style they used. But the roof can be omitted for a simpler shape.
Also shown in the photograph are one of our Morris Kelmscott mirror frames, an A.W.N. Pugin frame and a CFA Voysey round mirror and pentray (on the washstand). Made to order
The suite is in a Reformed Gothic style, the chunky shapes possess great charm. It is painted a 'Morris' green, matching the original colour. The simplicity of the suite anticipated the Arts & Crafts Movement by decades, and had a great influence on the work of designers around the turn of the century. These pieces are shown individually on other pages in this section.
Even seemingly 'simple' furniture such as this requires time and skill, and therefore cost, to produce properly. Morris ruefully acknowledged this in 1881, "The furniture for a workman's cottage? What can be done? If it be weel made instead of ill made it will cost not twice as much, but twenty times as much; crede milie experte".
The suite comprises a single bed, washstand vanity unit, clothes horse, Chest of drawers, dressing table and dressing table mirror. The washstands, chests of drawers & wardrobes are discussed in more detail on other pages. Although shown as a single bed this could be supplied as a double bed, we have a seperate page just showing the single & double beds. The colour variations in some of the photos are due to photography & web reproduction. We've also shown above some of our designs for this range.
This cartoon, one of many by his friend Burne-Jones, shows Morris snoring happily away in the Artisan bed, c.1861.
Just because the original Artisan range was green colour doesn't mean we have to follow that. Morris & Co. furniture came in many finishes. Why not a Morris blue or dragons blood red, or a wood finish ?