The multi talented British architect and designer Owen Jones (1809 – 1874), was one of the most influential design and colour theorists of the 19th century. His specialism was in interior decoration but his ideas spanned a huge range of other fields including architecture, wallpaper, furniture, ceramics and textiles, all of which was informed by his extensive and seemingly obsessive research into the history of ornamentation. Jones believed strongly in the decorative importance of colour, declaring that “form without colour is like a body without a soul.” Jones helped pioneer modern colour theory, and the ideas he brought to Victorian England on pattern and ornament still resonate with interior designers today.
Jones was a progressive, searching for a unique modern style to echo Victorian modernism and reflect the exotic and diversite excitement of Empire. He travelled the globe for inspiration. To the very limits of Empire and beyond. He looked at antiquity and to cultures all over the world for inspiration; Oceana, Egypt, Assyria, Greece, Pompeii, Rome, Arabia, the Moors, Persia, India, the Renaissance and the Celts.
Jones re-invented himself, shapeshifting into an inspiring Victorian trend setter, a specialist in reinventing the ornate patterns and dazzling colours of exotic, ancient worlds for a brand new era.
He curated his findings into a huge, and now seminal publication, The Grammar of Ornament (1856), a global and historical design sourcebook for which a design sourcebook that is still in print today 150 years later.
Jones also looked very thoroughly at Chinese design in particular. Evidence that he had a strong passion for this area emerged in 1867 when he published Examples of Chinese ornament : selected from objects in the South Kensington Museum and other collections – a whole book devoted entirely devoted to it.
“Examples” is classic inspiration for home decor, personally selected from the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A) and other collections, then drawn & lithographed beautifully by Victorian style guru, Owen Jones.
If classic = timeless then that’s what these swatches are. The design swatches Owen picked out 150 years ago are as inspirational, as vibrantly authentic and evocative today, as they were back then.
Perhaps more so.