If you read our previous feature ‘For the love of flowers – using flowers in interior design’ you may remember that we described how many fabric designers have used flowers as inspiration

‘Blousy roses, peonies, magnolias, poppies or smaller exquisite flowers have been an enduring source of inspiration for fabric designers such as William Morris, Sanderson, Liberty, Laura Ashley, Zoffany and Designers Guild.’

Following on from this feature we have been exploring textiles in general and as part of this exploration we discovered this absolutely gorgeous book:

Patterns: Inside the Design Library – Peter Koepke

Description: An insider’s guide to the world’s largest archive of patterns and textiles, the source of inspiration for the globe’s top designers.

Every season, designers from fashion, home furnishings, textiles, graphic arts, and paper-product industries seek inspiration from patterns to bring their collections to life. Many of these designers – including Beacon Hill, Boden, Calvin Klein, Clinique, Colefax & Fowler, Lululemon, Nike, Oscar de la Renta, Pottery Barn, and Target – look to the Design Library, the world’s largest archive of surface design. This one-of-a-kind book, drawn from the Design Library’s archive, is an exclusive and ultimate sourcebook of pattern and ornament.

There are certain books that are unique in the way that they provide inspiration and this is one such book. This beautiful book shares examples of some the exquisite textiles that are stored within The Design Library collections.

It is so easy to take designs for granted, but when you start exploring the inspiration it can take you on a wonderful journey.

Inspired by this beautiful book we contacted The Design Library and were fortunate to receive the following fascinating information from Peter Koepke about their history and their work.

The Design Library

“The Design Library’s business is the sale and licensing of antique, vintage, modern and contemporary textile designs for inspiration to the fashion, home furnishings, textile, wall covering, graphic arts, and paper product industries.

The Design Library has the world’s largest and best organized collections of documentary fabrics, original paintings, wallpapers, embroideries and yarn dyes, numbering over seven million designs. The collections date from the 1750s to the present and are sorted into over 1200 categories for easy access.

There exists an infinity of ways to design a piece of paper or fabric. Across three hundred years of highly skilled creative work—mostly by anonymous artists—a marvelous assortment of designs has emerged. Pattern is everywhere and has always been a powerful means of individual and cultural expression.

The Design Library is proud of the depth, breadth, organization and continuing expansion of our archive. The scope of the archive collections, our vast reservoir of untapped designs and our constant new acquisitions mean that the Library is effectively a limitless resource.

We welcome the challenge to present designs that most successfully transcend their original context to inspire the collections of our clients today.

The History

The Design Library was founded 45 years ago by Susan Meller and her late husband Herbert. Through their love of old fabric patterns and passion for collecting, the Mellers assembled a vast record of Western textile design. Then began the daunting project—which continues today—of cleaning, mounting and classifying the hundreds of thousands of documentary fabric swatches, paintings and antique wallpapers. The acquisition and classification of unique design collections from all over the world is ongoing and the archive continues to expand.

Peter Koepke joined the Design Library in 1990 and acquired the company in 2002. Peter achieved the move from Manhattan to the Hudson River Valley in 1998, has managed the development of digital design collections in Kosmos™ and Satellite™ and authored PATTERNS Inside the Design Library published by Phaidon Press.

The London office was opened in 2005 with the addition of Kate Denham as London Director. That same year Richard Weissman assumed the role of President in North America. Between Kate and Richard, the Design Library has greatly expanded its reach. These moves have enabled continued acquisition of coveted collections to add to the archive.

The Process

The primary way to add value to a product is good design.For over 45 years, the Design Library has contributed to this creative process by providing layout, motif, color and direction to designers.

To begin, a designer, design director, stylist, product development manager or company owner contacts the Design Library searching for surface design ideas to help print, weave, embroider or embellish products.

Often the clients will provide us with a direction, storyboard or range of designs that are needed to inspire development for future seasons. Sometimes the direction will be discovered as the client views our collections.

The Design Library team prepares a presentation of designs from the archive based on the client’s specific wishes and needs. The meeting may take place at Design Library offices in New York or London, England; or a Design Library consultant will bring a collection to the client’s office. We then sell designs outright, or license them to clients to use for a specified period of time in their industry only.

The Design Library’s success rate is very high due to the quality and diversity of the archive, and to the taste, knowledge, and dedication of our team”

What we love about this collection is the way that present day designers seek inspiration from the past to create the designs of today. This treasured collection uniquely catalogues designs from three centuries into manageable categories for today’ s designers to use in such a vast array of contexts.

Once you start focusing on textile design there is such a treasure trove to discover, textiles can tell such amazing stories and The Design Library is an absolutely outstanding collection of textile designs.

Our thanks to Peter Koepke for the fascinating information about the work of The Design Library.

Photo credit: Mark Mahaney; courtesy of the Design Library

Also our thanks to Phaidon for access to a copy of this delightful book.

Patterns: Inside the Design Library by Peter Koepke is published by Phaidon, £49.95