Design Centre Stories

Papers from the Past

The co-founders of Watts & Co – architects George Frederick Bodley, Gilbert Scott and Thomas Garner – sat at the forefront of Victorian architecture when the company was founded in 1874, with a remit to bring the same gothic revival, Arts & Crafts spirit to products such as textiles and wallcoverings as they had for buildings. Now abbreviated simply to Watts, the firm lives on – and it has a fine archive to draw from, including the pearwood blocks that were used to create the original wallcoverings.

The new Bodley Papers collection pays homage to four 19th-century designs, printed digitally but using the block-printed paper as a starting point, thus preserving all the subtleties of the originals. ‘Pear’, ‘Sunflower’, ‘Bodley’ and ‘Bird’ were some of George Frederick Bodley’s earliest designs, but are perfectly suited to modern interiors with their bright, fresh palette. Their nature-inspired subject matter and pattern repeat shows Bodley’s affinity with the work of William Morris, with whom he worked in the 1860s.

As Watts says, “The Bodley Papers are not just a digitised version of the original blocks. Rather, they are a masterclass in how to perfectly blend the old with the new in the world of interior design.”

Watts, Third Floor, Centre Dome