I love rugs, and there is a great exhibition of them in Los Angeles at Christopher Farr. I was not familiar at all with The Omega Workshop and once I saw the rugs, which I knew the designs, I became most interested in the history.
In July 1913 Omega workshops Ltd opened to the public at 33 Fitzroy Square in the heart of London’s Bloomsbury. Now I know you have all heard of The Bloomsbury Group so let me give you a bit of background on them, and then I will tie them together.
The Bloomsbury Group or Bloomsbury Set was a group of writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists who held informal discussions in Bloomsbury throughout the 20th century.This English collective of friends and relatives lived, worked
or studied near Bloomsbury in London during the first half of the twentieth century. “Although its members denied being a group in any formal sense, they were united by an abiding belief in the importance of the arts”. Their work deeply influenced
literature,aesthetics,criticism, and economics as well as modern attitudes towards feminism,pacifism and sexuality. Its best known members were Virginia Woolf, John Maynard KeynesE.M. Forster and Lytton Strachey
The lives and works of the group members show an overlapping, interconnected similarity of ideas and attitudes that helped to keep the friends and relatives together, reflecting in large part the influence of G.E. Moore;
‘the essence of what Bloomsbury drew from Moore is contained in his statement that “one’s prime objects in life were love, the creation and enjoyment of aesthetic experience and the pursuit of knowledge”
So, now enter the Omega Workshops, The Omega Workshops was a design enterprise founded by members of the Bloomsbury Group and established in 1913. It was founded with the intention of providing graphic expression to the essence of the Bloomsbury ethos.
The workshops incorporated public showrooms as well as studios and were staffed by a business manager, caretaker and a group of artist assistants. Roger Fry founded and was the driving force behind the Omega Workshops.
Unlike his most obvious predecessors William Morris and the designers of the Arts and Crafts Movement, Fry wanted to remove what he saw as the false division between the fine and decorative arts. He was keen to see some of the key ideas of Post-Impressionism,
such as bright colors and bold simplified forms, applied to design. so when you look at the examples you will totally understand all of this.
Invitation to the opening of
the Omega Workshops
© Henrietta Garnett
All rights reserved