Bringing Art Home

C.F.A Voysey and our Lioness and Palms Wallpapers

Voysey's Lioness

Charles Francis Voysey (1857 – 1941) was an English architect, furniture and textile designer. Our Lioness and Palms wallpaper is based on his original drawing found in the archives of the V&A museum.

Along with the likes of William Morris, he also took inspiration from Herbert Tudor Buckland and Augustus Pugin who drew heavily on domestic architecture. It was his friend, Arthur Mackmurdo who introduced him to wallpaper design, and from there his career as a pattern designer became more prolific than his career as an architect: “now a ‘Voysey wallpaper’ sounds almost as familiar as a ‘Morris Chintz’ or a ‘Liberty Silk”. (1896 – The Studio)

Many of Voysey’s patterns are reminiscent of traditional oriental design, yet retain a contemporary feel. His designs often centre around contrast, bringing in natural forms such as plants or animals and many of his patterns use shapes made up of areas of colour, bound by dark or pale outlines.

The V&A has an extensive collection of Voysey’s work, including drawings, fabrics, carpets and wallpapers. While sifting through the archives we were excited to find a small watercolour he created in 1918.

The drawing, with lionesses, palms, orange flowers and green grasses is one of CommonRoom’s most loved designs. Paying tribute to his use of contrast and his following his hand-written instructions for an alternative background on the original drawing (see above), we’ve produced Lioness and Palms in two colourways – Midday and Midnight. The wallpaper is printed digitally in order to retain as many of Voysey’s original brushstrokes as possible.
Voysey looked at architecture and interiors as being on the same footing. He designed ‘from the inside outwards’, fashioning every detail of his houses, including the furniture. In his essay ‘Ideas and Things’, he argued for the involvement of the architect in the planning of an interior down to the smallest detail. Voysey created environments – lioness and Palms is one such environment. At CommonRoom we aim to make high-quality contemporary art accessible to the many rather than the few. The decision to put the 1918 drawing by Voysey into production represents a return to the roots of the original artist-designed wallpapers and fabrics.