Barbara Brown Fabric

When modernism goes bad
Circa 1960s
Barbara Brown
Nationality of Designer
Manufacturers Location
England (U.K)


'Ikebana' fabric print, marked with manufacturer/designer's name.


Purchased by Adam Sutherland on ebay.


Good condition, made into curtains by Karen Guthrie 

Why it's in the Collection

Brown's fabric designs reflected the new optimism and confidence that swept through Britain in the 1960s. The oil crisis and following economic slump put paid to Britain’s flirtation with a confident future, and with the likes of Laura Ashley leading the way, Britain started looking backwards again to a nostalgic rural past that existed largely in the imagination.

Barbara Brown's 'Focus' bowl also in the Lawson Park collection.


About the Designer/Maker

Textile Designer, Barbara Brown (1939-) began supplying designs to Midwinter Pottery and Heal's Fabrics in 1958 soon after completing her studies at the Royal College of Art. She taught printed textiles at Medway College and Zandra Rhodes was among her students. 

Heal's Fabric Director, Tom Worthington commissioned the most high profile designers of the day to produce stunning fabrics during the 1960's. He was drawn to Brown's strong architectural designs and optical distortions thats reflected the fashion of the times. However, Brown said that she never consciously designs with either fashion or the commercial market in mind, but works more like a painter, in that her designs - all of which have a characteristic three-dimensional quality - evolve and develop over a period of time.

About the Manufacturer

Heal's was established in 1810 as a family business by John Harris Heal. 

Sir Ambrose Heal, who worked in the company as craftsman, designer and finally Chairman, for 60 years from 1893 to 1953, combined an Arts and Crafts Movement ethos with a vision to make beautiful, utilitarian and affordable products to the mass market.

In 1960, Heal's celebrated its 150th Anniversary. To celebrate, the company decided to create a 'Designers of The Future Exhibition' with young designers from different European countries selected and commissioned to design a room in the Mansard Gallery. Although the designs came from seven different countries, all the furniture was made by Heal's craftsmen. A similar tradition still remains today through the renowned 'Heals Discovers' Awards.

Bibliography & Further information

Heals of London 'Rediscovered' range

Peter York's Independent article, 'That'll do nicely'

The Textile Blogspot