Books recommendations - the print and pattern reading list

When it comes to designing, I'd be lost without my pattern source books. I so often turn to them for inspiration - for colours, shapes or repeat motif ideas.  So I thought I'd give you a sneak peek inside my 'design library' - a very fancy way of saying the one shelf in my IKEA bookcase not taken up with books belonging to my English teacher husband!!

First up, one to my absolute favourites: Textiles of the Islamic World by John Gillow. It's not only beautifully written and researched, but there are generous full page spreads aplenty of gorgeous textiles stretching from the Ottoman world through to Arabia and Persia, and from Central Asia extending as far as Sub-Saharan Africa. From ceremonial clothing to utilitarian cloth, there's a full range of different varieties of textiles. I also love that Gillow himself travelled through some of these regions as a schoolboy and later in life as a textile dealer - he knows how to get under the skin of each region.


Another - more recently acquired - find is Textile Designs: 200 Years of Patterns for Printed Fabrics by Susan Meller. I actually came across this book relatively recently, in my local secondhand Shelter bookshop.  It sang to me from the window! The book is arranged by motif, colour, period and design, and is absolutely jam-packed full of inspiration. It's got everything from chintz to cats, and indigos to ikats. I love just leafing through it and letting my eye wander. I always see something new. Great if you're in a style rut and need to shake things up.


Next up, an old-school classic and possibly the most well-thumbed book in my bookcase, ever. My mum bought me the Essential William Morris, by Iain Zaczek back when I was doing my GCSE's - i.e. a very long time ago! I was into organic shapes and Islamic art, so obviously discovering William Morris blew my mind. Not only is this book packed full of Morris' famous wallpapers, tiles and tapestries, but you also get a sense of how his Firm operated - which is fascinating and inspiring stuff for anyone starting a creative business. It's also amazing to realise that alongaide his creative endeavours he also wrote novels and was a political activist - he had the original multi-hyphen career!  I should also say, this book is going for a song on Amazon - under £3 including postage if you buy it secondhand. Snap it up, you won't regret it.


And last but not least, Alastair Morton and the Edinburgh Weavers, but Lesley Jackson. I actually came across this book soon after I moved to Edinburgh - I believe at the Dovecot Studios shop (both the shop and the Studios are absolutely fantastic by the way - do visit if you're in Edinburgh). The Edinburgh Weavers were such an important part of the Scottish - and British - textiles scene that I couldn't not include this! They commissioned patterns for textiles from some of the biggest name 20th century artists and designers - everyone from Barbara Hepworth to Lucienne Day. The colour palettes are muted yet sumptuous. Highly recommended.

That's it - for this round-up at least! There's plenty more where this came from - next time I'll focus on interiors books.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear what your favourite books are when it comes to print and pattern. Where do you turn to for inspiration?