Harking back to John Lewis’ origins as a haberdashery and printer of materials, the building is home to an archive of both acquired textile patterns and those commissioned by John Lewis, from 1800 onwards. Over 30,000 sample-size swatches of textile patterns are stored, many available for reference in a sanctuary for designers seeking inspiration. The new archive is housed in a 2014 building that converted and extended a farmhouse in the grounds of The Grove – a John Lewis property for use by its Partners, beautifully executed by FSP Architects.
The centre’s aim is summarised succinctly as ‘protecting the past, inspiring the future’ – perfectly aligned with Heritage Revival’s purpose in heritage architecture and interiors.
We enjoyed a talk on the history of textile printing and design by Judy Faraday, Manager of Heritage Services at John Lewis. Key designers for John Lewis’ textiles over the centuries have included Robin (1915-2010) and Lucienne Day (1917-2010) and Pat Albeck (1930-2017).
Judy highlighted how the archive has inspired the application of some of the textile designs to adorn their buildings – including the Leicester John Lewis store (by Foreign Office Architects), and the Heritage Centre itself. The pattern carved onto the timber cladding is inspired by a Charles Francis Annesley Voysey (1857 – 1941) design.
The talk was then followed by Linda Haskings of Identity Papers, whose bespoke wallpaper print design focuses on expressing memories of her Clients to create a subtle and thoughtful way to personalise their home.
I thoroughly enjoyed being indulged the wonderful and varied designs and am looking forward to future visits to channel inspiration in such a peaceful location, and right on my doorstep!
The Heritage Centre is open to the public on Saturdays 10am-4pm and is well worth a visit for design enthusiasts.