Historical patterns: the GP & J Baker x Pooky lampshade collection

gp and J baker x pooky collectionPooky’s new lampshade collaboration with GP & J Baker draws on an astonishing treasure trove of historical textile patterns. Here’s the story of the GP & J Baker archives…

We probably don’t shout about it enough, but Britain is home to an extraordinary, almost unimaginably vast trove of historical textile designs. The collections at the V&A, the legacy of Morris & Co. and Liberty, the wonderful Arts and Crafts archive of Sanderson Design… these are all vital parts of our cultural heritage. And then there’s the GP & J Baker archive: the largest privately owned textile archive in the world.

The collection was started by the brothers George Percival and James Baker, not long after they formed the textile company that bears their names in 1882. In true Victorian style, the Baker brothers weren’t just entrepreneurs but visionaries: avid and discerning collectors of beautiful and rare things wherever they could find them. From Chinese wallpapers to Peruvian tunics, Italian velvets to French toiles, Indian prints and Indonesian batiks – the archive is bursting with items from around the globe and across the centuries.

Image: GP & J Baker

The pattern books

At the heart of the archive are the textile pattern books: over one hundred large vellum-bound volumes containing literally thousands of samples and designs from the 18th and 19th centuries. George Percival Baker acquired them when he bought the Swaisland Printworks in south east London, then home to the country’s foremost calico printer.


gpj baker pattern books

The pattern books. Image: GP & J Baker

The books provide an extraordinary record of all the important design trends of the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras, and are considered to be ‘a reliable history of design and printing in England’. But this isn’t just a museum collection, gathering dust in some long-forgotten basement: it is and always has been a living, breathing thing – a constant source of inspiration for designers.

As early as 1893, GP & J Baker was employing some of the leading Arts and Crafts designers of the time. An in-house studio led by the brilliant W.J. Thomas began developing designs from the archive, notably the naturalistic drawn English garden flowers that were hugely popular in the early 1900s and became the iconic company style. Classics such as the large scale print ‘Nympheus’ or the delicate ‘Oriental Bird’ originate in the archives, and right up to the present day the GP & J Baker studio designers make continual use of its treasures for wallpapers, curtains, upholstery and more.


Original fabric book swatches showing colourways. Image: GP & J Baker


The new lampshade collection, created in collaboration with Pooky’s design team, is a great illustration of how these historical patterns can be endlessly reinterpreted for the contemporary home…

The GP & J Baker x Pooky lampshade collection

Little Magnolia

little magnolia originalStraight empire shade in original Little Magnolia linen by GP & J Baker

Based on a 1913 block print painted by the great William Turner, Little Magnolia is one of GP & J Baker’s best loved designs. It’s a classic Arts and Crafts pattern, inspired by antique Chinese artworks and showing Asian magnolia flowers in the early months of the year before the emergence of the leaves. Turner augmented the magnolias with butterflies and bursts of chrysanthemum and hydrangea blossom, creating a wonderfully exuberant scene.

For the Pooky lampshades this archive icon has been reimagined for a smaller size and carefully recoloured in three colourways: Original (above) and Willow and Emerald (below).

willow and emerald little magnolia
Little Magnolia by GP & J Baker in Willow and Emerald colourways


emerald fernsStraight empire shade in emerald Ferns linen by GP & J Baker

Ferns was created by the leading Irish textile artist Joseph M. Doran and purchased by GP & J Baker in 1935. The design is actually based on botanical drawings published in the Flora Londinensis, an 18th century record of plants growing within a ten mile radius of London. ‘Ferns’ was first produced as a chintz and became an instant favourite on both sides of the Atlantic. jubilee ferns

Ferns by GP & J Baker in Jubilee colourway

It has been printed continuously for the last 80 years – and the Pooky version is another new interpretation, adapting the scale to a lampshade-friendly size and printed in Emerald and Jubilee colourways.

Small Ikat Spot

small ikat spot blue and redStraight empire shade in blue and red Small Ikat Spot linen by GP & J Baker

Ikats have long been a much-loved part of the Pooky lampshade range, so we’re delighted to pay tribute to a classic ikat pattern from GP & J Baker archive. Small Ikat Spot is based on Ikat Bokhara, a fabulously rich and vibrant pattern inspired by the Silk Road desert oasis of Bokhara, which, along with Samarkand and Kashgar, was world-famous for ikat designs in the 19th century.

small ikat spot teal greenSmall Ikat Spot by GP & J Baker in teal and brown and blue and green colourways

We’ve printed it in three colourways: teal and brown, blue and red and blue and green.

Polka Dot

polka dotStraight empire shade in pink and green Polka Dot paper by GP & J Baker 

Polka Dot is another absolute classic from the GP & J Baker archive. The design couldn’t be simpler: a small-scale painterly spot repeated, but in the right combination of colours (in this case pink and green, Blue/Indigo or Emerald/Black/White) and paired with the bold contemporary trim it’s a joyful, eye-catching delight.

blue indigo and emerald black and whitePolka Dot by GP & J Baker in blue and indigo, and emerald, black and white 

In fact, Polka Dot, like the other shade patterns, is utterly timeless – a wonderful example of how a design with deep historical roots can nonetheless feel perfectly contemporary.

The amazing thing is that despite decades of continually reimagining their archive designs, GP & J Baker have only really used a fraction of their full collection, so we can look forward to many, many more exciting new interpretations and adaptations. At Pooky we’re delighted to be a part of that story.

Shop the full GP & J Baker x Pooky lampshade collection here.

 Read more about GP & J Baker’s history and browse their amazing collection of fabrics and wallcoverings on their website, and follow them on Instagram @gpjbaker

See also:
Timeless maximalism - 6 arts & crafts designers still influencing interiors today
Great interior designers: William Morris
Classic interior design styles and how to light them – Arts and Crafts
Amazing interiors: Red House, Bexleyheath