From Van Gogh's Sunflowers to Hokusai's The Great Wave or Wave of Kanagawa, these are just a few of art history's most iconic masters and works featured in our theme: Gathering of the Greats.
In this theme, we have revamped the featured artists works to now include a variety of designs that range from bold lines and shades of blues to spring pastels and softer textures that cater to the modern trends and tastes. These newly designed patterns and prints have been applied to a wealth of exciting products inspired. So, get excited to witness a Gathering of the Greats.
A Wave from the East is all about the colourful ukiyo-e prints of Japanese genius Katsushika Hokusai. You’ve probably seen his most famous work, Under the Wave off Kanagawa, splashed in fresh blue and white across everything from phone cases to tattoos to t-shirts. It’s even got an emoji! Hokusai’s iconic print shows a giant wave about to break over three fishing boats with Mount Fuji in the background. It looks totally Japanese but is actually a bit of a mash-up.
Western art wasn’t allowed in 19th century Japan, so Hokusai had to look at forbidden European pictures to learn western perspective, colours, and shading. The Great Wave has a low horizon like a Dutch landscape, which creates drama and frames Fuji’s distant peak in the claws of the crashing wave. Ukiyo-e prints were hugely popular in Japan.
People even collected them like trading cards. The name means ‘floating world,’ a reference to the carefree entertainment districts of Edo (Tokyo). Cheeky and humorous, they usually featured famous actors, dancers, and geisha. Prints were handmade by carving an image into hardwood blocks. These were then covered in ink and pressed onto paper. Popular prints were reproduced thousands of times. As the blocks wore down, colours and details changed, making each print unique. When Hokusai came along, he changed the rules by drawing ordinary people and landscapes instead.
He used stylised shapes, thick outlines of Prussian blue ink and flat blocks of vivid colour, a bit like a graphic novel. Japanese people bought his prints of popular or sacred sites as souvenirs. When people in industrialised Europe saw them—with Japanese in traditional dress beside beautiful waterfalls, graceful trees, and calm lily ponds they thought Japan was an unspoiled paradise! He also made waves in the art world, influencing the likes of Van Gogh, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Klimt, and Degas. Today, almost 20 years after Hokusai’s wave broke across the world, you can still see the ripples in everything from fine art to pop culture. Maybe that’s why his images of ancient Japan manage to look classic and contemporary all at the same time.
Seasons of Impressionists is all about getting out there and exploring the world. It’s about loving life and finding beauty in nature and the everyday, like these revolutionary artists did. The Impressionists were a group of young friends who shook up the art world in the 19th century. At the time, idealised landscapes, realistic historical scenes and portraits of the upper classes were popular.
Impressionist painters like Renoir, Monet, Degas and Berthe Morisot were more interested in the real world in front of their eyes. These innovative artists worked quickly and spontaneously, often outdoors, to capture changing light and movement. They loved to paint landscapes, nature and ordinary people working or relaxing in the cafés, theatres and countryside resorts of Paris. They were influenced by the new art of photography, so figures often look blurry, like a snapshot. Lifelong friends, they often took holidays together and spent days painting and sharing ideas and discoveries.
Instead of recording every detail, they used light and colour to create an impression of how something looked at a certain moment. Using broad, almost messy, brushstrokes, they combined bold pops of contrasting colours like red and green, orange and blue. These look brighter when placed next to each other. From a distance, they combine to create stunning visuals and effects. Warm colours pop, so they stand out, while cold ones recede. The Impressionists were fascinated by how colours and objects changed with the light. So they painted the same subjects again and again at different times of the day or year. As well as inspiring intense, gorgeous colours, the seasons were also an important subject for artists like Vincent Van Gogh as they represented the cycle of life. At first, the critics didn’t get what they trying to do and called their paintings “unfinished.”
Eventually, they were accepted but it wasn’t easy being outsiders in the early days. They had to hustle to make ends meet and even gave away paintings to pay for meals. It’s hard to imagine now how radical they were, but the Impressionists changed art forever. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have abstract art and modern artists might not be free to paint whatever they want.
As time has gone by, industrialisation and modernisation has taken over our world and has arguably taken us away from our natural surroundings.
Our theme, Botanical Affairs, brings you refreshened interpretations of floral favourites, such as William Morris and 17th century Dutch art to remind you of the beauty of nature – an essential reminder given that we are in a climate crisis.
Our interpretations of William Morris and the Dutch artists including Rachel Ruysch, come in an array of colourways that add an element of flora and fauna to any household or wardrobe. These designs aren’t seasonal as the name implies – these interpretations are designed to be chic all year round. We cannot wait to share these Botanical Affairs with you!
Floriography brings the world of William Morris into beautiful bloom. Take an inspiring stroll through the English countryside in the company of this multitalented master craftsman. Few people impacted Victorian taste like William Morris, the revolutionary designer who co-founded the Arts & Crafts movement with friends like the Pre-Raphaelite artists. They advocated a return to ‘pure’ Medieval standards –when artisans and artists were equal – and used medieval, folk or romantic decorative styles. Influenced by the critic John Ruskin, Arts & Crafts rejected capitalism and mass production in favour of community values and disappearing traditional handicrafts. Morris cared about nature and only used high-quality materials and homemade natural dyes made with traditional ingredients. He was big on do-it yourself too, founding Morris & Co to make the high-quality furnishings he wanted in his own home but couldn’t find in shops. Run as an artists’ collective, it hired disadvantaged people as apprentices to give them a chance. Morris excelled at everything he did, designing and making elaborate jewellery, furniture, prints, textiles, ceramics, wallpaper, stained glass and more. He was also a writer, poet, publisher, and photographer!
Inspired by his love of the English countryside, Morris designs are down-to-earth with an ornate Victorian twist. Intricate swirls of stylized plants, animals, fruits and flowers in everything from delicate pastels to jewel-bright reds and golds combine the lushness of a tropical jungle with the understated elegance of an English country garden. The Victorians were mad about botany and floriography – the secret language of flowers used to exchange coded messages – so it wasn’t long before his elaborate patterns exploded into glorious life across fashionable homes. Morris didn’t believe in making exclusive art for museums or the rich, though. He thought good design should be for everyone, saying: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Arts & Crafts was the first movement to allow women to participate, and Morris’ daughter, May, continued his work. Over the decades, his ideals and designs have inspired everyone from the Bauhaus to Terrence Conran and are now being discovered by new generations. Maybe that’s how they manage to look nostalgic and contemporary all at the same time.
Vintage Romanticism takes us back in time to experience the natural world through the eyes of artists and explorers and share their passion for plants and flowers. The Dutch Golden Age was an amazing time for arts and sciences. Weird and wonderful creatures poured into Europe from newly explored worlds. People went mad for exotic Asian flowers like irises, lilies, narcissus, peonies and roses. The most in-demand, like tulips, sold for thousands. Interest in botany meant people loved learning from exquisitely detailed art like Flowers in a Wan-Li Vaseby Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder. Layers of glazes painted on copper bring rich reds, glowing yellows and delicate pinks to luminous life. Vivid colours contrast sharply with immaculate whites and deep shadows. Vanitas paintings like this mix scientific observation with Baroque splendour and a moral message: tiny insects and fallen petals are metaphors for the cycle of life and death. Bosschaert started the flower painting trend but the all-time master was Rachel Ruysch, the daughter of an 18th century Amsterdam botanist, from whose specimens she studied painting.
As an apprentice painter at 15, she became highly successful. Using needle-fine brushes, she outlined fragile flowers, iridescent shells and translucent insect wings in microscopic detail. You can almost reach out and touch the velvety petals, hear the whisper of dried grasses. Ruysch’s exuberant compositions mix the exotic and everyday, combining flowers that didn’t blossom together. Flowers in a Vase covers all the seasons: early pear blossom, peonies and honeysuckle jostle with late-blooming lilies in burnt orange, russet and deep green. Ripe golden wheat adds a touch of autumn. Ruysch was so popular her paintings sold for more than Rembrandt’s did in his lifetime. International clients included the d’Medici family. She also worked as a court artist, all while raising 10 children! History often forgets women artists, like Marie Blancour, a mysterious 17th-century French painter. Her only signed work, A Bowl of Flowers, also hangs in the National Gallery, London. No danger of forgetting Ruysch, though. Way before feminism was a thing, she blazed a trail for women painters.
From animals to people, young and old, everyone alike – playing has always been in the nature of all living things. Fun loving nature, sparks of joy and animal antics live within many of us. Our theme, Let’s Play, not only highlights our high-spirited characters such as cats, but also incorporates bright and vivid colours that reflect the soul of this theme.
Following the big cats into the jungle we see inspirations of 20th century artists viewing these high-spirited characters in bright vivid colours, bold lines and modernistic prints reflecting this theme collection and our desire to play, laugh and enjoy each day.
Tiger, the most majestic animal on land, is yet adorable because of its close relative, the cat. People living in modern cities rarely see this elegant animal in the wild, but their love for pet cats keeps growing. The image of the tiger in today’s artwork is often a mixture of these two felines: fierce but innocent.
Franz Marc and Paul Ranson, two of the most pioneering artists in the early 20th century both depicted tigers in woodcut prints. Even though their works did not intend to show a hunting scene, the arrogance of the beast is apparent. They capture the motion of the tiger, despite using only black and white.