Interwoven Connections: finding inspiration in the company’s in-house archive

Who: Stoddard Templeton
Job: Carpet Manufacturers
Where: West of Scotland
When: 1839 – 2005
Archive: Stoddard Design Library and Archives & Collections Centre, The Glasgow School of Art

Stoddard Templeton denotes a group of carpet manufacturing companies based in the West of Scotland, the foundations of which can be traced to the 1800s with the formation of James Templeton & Co and A F Stoddard & Co. Subsidiary companies included Ronald Jack & Co Paisley, Henry Widnell & Stewart of Bonnyrigg, Gray’s of Ayr and Blackwood Morton & Sons Kilmarnock. Stoddard Templeton designed and supplied many iconic carpets, for royalty, for government, for ocean liners such as the Titanic and Queen Mary and for the Festival of Britain. They exported worldwide and produced for contract and domestic markets until interior trends, consumer preference for other flooring surfaces and competition from overseas led to the demise of the remaining company, Stoddard International PLC.

Carpet Sample – 750 5/8, 34, Stoddard Templeton, 1904

Carpet Sample – 750 5/8, 34, Stoddard Templeton, 1904

The design studios of Stoddard Templeton were remarkable sites of creative activity. In addition to their in-house design teams they employed an array of reputable designers including Charles Voysey, Walter Crane, Frank Brangwyn, Enid Marx, Marion Dorn and Mary Quant. Throughout Stoddard Templeton’s existence, designers frequently utilised the companies’ in-house archives to provide inspiration during the carpet design process. These archives contained a wealth of collected artefacts comprising books, portfolios, drawings, paintings, designs, textile samples, carpets and other visual reference material. Today the Stoddard Templeton archive collection is divided, The Glasgow School of Art holds the design library and a selection of carpet samples, the design and corporate archives reside with University of Glasgow Archive Services and Glasgow Museums retain the heritage carpet collection.

Detail of plate from Edouard Benedictus, Relais, 1930

Detail of plate from Edouard Benedictus, Relais, 1930

Items from the design library and archive provided Stoddard Templeton designers with insight into aesthetic styles from around the world. Often, at the beginning of the design process, reference material would be selected to inform the design to be created. Drawings would be produced and visual components taken to form new compositions. The translation of motifs through exploratory drawing, painting and collage techniques meant that a designer’s signature style or creative handwriting reinterpreted the initial visual inspiration. Gridded pencil lines and tracings were used to replicate and enlarge various motifs. Certain elements from items would be selected for shape, pattern layout or colour combinations. Existing designs, whether in books, portfolios, as sketches, on drafting paper or manufactured carpets, were copied and adapted to produce new designs. This was common with famous Persian carpets such as Trinitarias, Ardebil and Chelsea. A further example is evident with the use of the brightly coloured Art Deco pochoir designs by Edouard Benedictus and Eugene Alain Seguy.

While certain Stoddard Templeton designers fully utilised the companies’ library and archive, others referred to contemporary magazines and influences outside of the studio; methods were also formed which merged these approaches. The workings of the Stoddard Templeton design studios and in particular utilisation of the design library in the carpet design process has been the focus of the Interwoven Connections project funded by The Royal Society of Edinburgh.

 

The design library contains a rich array of material including carpet and rug designs, textiles, ornament, two-dimensional pattern, interior, architecture, furniture and colour references. The design library forms a discrete collection within The Glasgow School of Art Library special collections, and numbers some 670 volumes. Guides and bibliographies can be found here, with the full collection searchable through the GSA Library online catalogue.

The Glasgow School of Art Archives & Collections Centre holds a selection of Stoddard Templeton carpet samples, which can be viewed by appointment. These resources and the other parts of the collection ensure that the historically significant archives of Stoddard Templeton remain accessible and inspirational to future generations. Keep up to date with the GSA Archives on twitter @GSALibrary and their blog.

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