May 28: Voyseyphilia

2012/05/28 § Leave a comment

On this day in 1857 Charles Francis Annesley Voysey was born.

It happened something like this: the Heavens opened and a host of angels swooped earthward with a downy cloud on which rested a little babe already clutching the pencil that he would use to spread a particular kind of charming and sweet beauty all over England.  Maybe the last great Arts and Crafts architect, Voysey (d. 1941) designed wonderful dwellings (they’re not just houses, they are buildings for dwelling) and everything in them (down to the hinges and coat hooks) to be evocative of comfortable vernacular traditions as seen through the eye of an exceptionally skilled designer: clean lines, ideal proportions, warm colors, rich but sparing ornament.  Nothing is too precious, everything is valuable.

The fabric panel above is case-in-point.  The pattern is inspired by a nursery rhyme.  That’s lovely, to start with, to see an architect as comfortable drawing from Jacobean history as children’s poetry.  We see the farmer, his corn, the maiden and her cow with the crumpled horn, the dog, the rat, the malt, and the house (that Jack built, of course) in a jumbled hide and seek.  It inspires engagement and delight, encouraging a person to linger in a room that would be part of a beautifully crafted shelter, all warm and natural materials, simply wrought and perfectly proportioned.  This is a textile designed for a snug home, one that, the Muse reckons, would always smell like there was bread in the oven.

Our friends over at Matters of Taste have it pretty bad for Voysey (one of the reasons the Muse gets along so famously with the Taste staff) and we encourage you to pop over and read their piece Architecture’s Sweetheart.  You might also link over to the Victoria and Albert collection of Voysey prints, furniture, and even the occasional architectural drawing.  Because, really, whatever you thought was important to do in the next hour, is not as important as that.

 Image: fabric design “The House that Jack Built” (from this source)
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