Monday, 5 December 2011

Brainfood For Your Inner Goddess

When mooching around Bloomsbury recently, I came across Persephone Books. I had heard of them in the far reaches of my mind, knew that they reprint neglected classics by C20th (mostly women) writers. However I did not know about their aesthetic choices. I was so excited to find such a goldmine of understated patterned beauty. In their own words:

"With their distinctive plain grey jackets and cream 'labels' for the title wording, all our books look the same from the outside.

Inside, each is different, with the endpapers chosen especially to match the date and mood of the book.
Fabrics are as much a part of our daily lives as furnishing and dress materials, yet we rarely see them used in any other context. However, fabric design should be celebrated for its own sake; and because it is a field in which women designers have been particularly prominent we would like to use their work whenever possible."

Love love love,  and intrigued by the content too (I'm not that shallow!).  For now, some of my favourite endpapers. 
All descriptions are from the Persephone website.

The fabric, by Otti Berger (d. Auschwitz 1944), a Bauhaus designer living in Holland, could have been Etty's bedspread; the stripes running across the muted, if cheerful, pattern have the effect of barbed-wire.

The endpaper is a 1968 Liberty's fabric called 'Bangles'. The three-dimensional kinetic pattern is characteristic of the period, the pinks and purples reflecting the influence of op art and psychedelic design; it might have hung in the Viorst family apartment.

A 1970s furnishing fabric which the author bought as curtains for her flat in North London The

1920 printed dress silk fabric designed by George Sheringham for Seftons

The endpaper, a 1932 Duncan Grant fabric which Leonard and Virginia Woolf had as curtains and on a sofa, is called 'Grapes'.

Much of the book is spiky and sharp: appropriately, the fabric for the endpaper is 'Thistle', a Silver Studio block-printed cotton sold at Liberty's in 1896, the year Alex would have been nineteen; by which time she is ensnared - scratched - by thickets of convention and etiquette.

A 1938 fabric by Marion Dorn was chosen for Saplings. It is called 'Aircraft' and shows pairs of stylised pigeons in flight on a background of natural linen. It contains the imagery of aircraft being readied for war yet of birds freely in flight.

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