Spotlight

Picking prints with the V&A

Behind the scenes of our latest collection with the museum

Words & Images

V&A

Picking prints with the V&A

We’re proud to say that the V&A was one of our first design partners and its extensive archives continue to be a rich source of inspiration for us. For spring 2022, the Papier designers worked with the V&A’s Brand Licensing team to produce a collaboration that would complement our folksy and floral in-house Vita collection.

To open the cover on the collaborative process, and find out more about the story of the new collection, we spoke with Ameila Calver, Licensing Research and Development Manager at the V&A.

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Hello Amelia. We’d love to hear more about your role at the V&A and what your day to day is like.
As part of the V&A’s Brand Licensing team, my colleagues and I are always on the hunt for strong and appealing images to inspire our brand partners. The Research team’s role is to illuminate the V&A’s collections and connect partners working in all areas of the marketplace, from home textiles to paper products, with a selection of objects from the Museum’s galleries, stores and archives.

We often meet with companies who are working with the V&A’s intellectual property all over the world. They usually give us an idea of what they’re looking for and we put together appropriate floral designs, figurative artworks, geometric prints or narrative surface patterns to inspire them. By the end of the process, a new range of home furnishings or wall art, apparel, jewellery, ceramics or even greeting cards, licensed and endorsed with the prestigious V&A trademark, will have emerged.

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What was the process behind choosing the designs for the new Papier collection?
At the start of each product range’s journey, licensees may already have a pattern, technique or art movement in mind. The inspiration behind Papier’s new V&A collection was a folk-bohemian look that incorporated bright and stunning prints, taking cues from the Bloomsbury Group and the Ballet Russes.

From among the V&A’s patterns, the focus for the range was pulled from its archive of textile and wallpaper designs. Papier’s selection of geometric and floral patterns is taken from early 18th century designs by Heussner & Co., acquired by the Museum in the 1870s, for furnishings, dress fabrics and patterned papers. Patterned papers were the precursor to modern wallpaper, and were also used as book covers and end papers or to line hat boxes.

In the creative hands of Papier, the historic patterns were transformed with sensitivity into an expression of the ‘Modern Folklore’ trend, transcending their original 18th century context and translated onto today’s beautiful stationery range.


How do you think these patterns resonate with a modern audience?
To work with the V&A is to be inspired by our collections, then in turn to transform that source material into something new and unique, with its own integrity and value. Often when looking at an historical pattern, we rely on our partners to envision an exciting way to repurpose it, to reinvigorate the original artwork for a contemporary customer. Some designers will totally change an 18th or 19th century pattern with a stylistic colour trend, working closely with the Brand Licensing team to make sure that we keep the integrity of the original.

Working from rich archives and combining them with current market trends, partners create products that honestly reflect the ethos of the V&A’s mission to inspire, entertain and educate by harnessing object stories into desirable goods. Our products always aim to surprise and charm, and this new reinterpretation of archival documents, made with real care and attention, will strike a chord with a modern audience.

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Which is your favourite item in the new collection?
Even though I’m a big fan of lists, I don't always have a notepad handy and end up scrawling things on the back of receipts or my hand! So the beautifully patterned Verdant Trio looks like just the solution. With a set of three, I can make sure there's one within handy reach and then I'll always be prepared to jot down all those dull everyday tasks or ideas when they come to me.