Digital Textile Printing

a 3D3 research project



Archive Study – Interview with Enid Marx by Oliver Green in 1980 from London Transport Museum




I’ve just been listening to the most lovely interview with Enid Marx from the 1980s with Oliver Green from the London Transport Museum’s archive. I’ve linked it to the image above, Marx’s moquette design ‘Brent’. It gives a lot of information about how she was commissioned to work for London Transport and the criteria for creating the moquette designs.

Marx was commissioned, along with Marion Dorn and Paul Nash, to come up with designs for the moquette material which would be used to upholster bus and tube train seats for London Transport. Frank Pick, managing director at the time and founder of the Design and Industries Association, brought in a house style for London Transport which included a redesign of all posters, tickets, maps, moquette fabrics, station interiors and architecture. It is now an iconic style and featured the work of many prominent artists and designers from the period.

In this interview Marx talks about the issues she had working with the moquette manufacturers who, anxious about divulging too much information to their competition about the capabilities of their machinery, were vague about the repeat sizes and proportions of the looms they employed. Therefore Marx was shocked to find a square design returned as an oblong because the loom could not produce squares. As a rigorous designer she challenged the samples and attempted to ensure that the finished fabric looked like the design she’d come up with.

Marx also talks about colour choices and the considerations she had to make about tonal contrasts to ensure that the fabric stood up to wear and tear and that the pattern was still visible under the dirt and grime. Its a great interview and a real insight into a design process. Link beneath or click on the image above.


Archive Visit – Transport for London Interwar Moquettes

Transport for London have the most wonderful depot in Acton which you reach up a long winding private road. You are greeted by a minature train track and tube station in front of a big industrial warehouse type building. When I visited as a Masters Student back in 2009 the reception had a chunky sofa upholstered in the yellow, orange and brown block design I remember sitting on in buses in the 1980s but that appears to have gone now. Perhaps to the Transport Museum, who knows.

I’d contacted the archive to see a few of the moquette fabrics they hold from Frank Pick’s era. Frank Pick, part of the ‘good design’ movement in the Interwar period, championed the use of design in London Transport from posters, architecture to fabrics, essentially coming up with what we’d now call branding. Frank Pick was known to love green, and I wonder if he was behind the colour choices of green and red that feature strongly in the designs I saw. I particularly wanted to see the moquettes by Paul Nash, Enid Marx and Marion Dorn.

Moquette is a thick cut and loop pile weave. It is still used today on transport fabrics because it is so hard wearing. It has to last, not show the dirt and look smart all in one. The designs from Frank Pick’s era continue the geometric style, fashionable at the time.

Exhibition – Weaving Magic – Chris Ofili, 26th April to 28th August 2017, National Gallery, London

Chris Ofili‘s work has evolved from the colourful , dazzling collages perched on elephant dung which I first saw at the infamous Sensation show at the Royal Academy of Art way back in 1997, and more recently at MUMOK, Vienna. The works at MUMOK looked lonely, and lost but the a lot of the work at MUMOK looked like that. My experience there was rather unwelcoming, so much so I didn’t even write about visiting there in my Vienna Posts (here, here and here).

His work is still colourful and cultural but is far more pictorial and crossed mediums into weaving. ‘Weaving Magic‘ is a collaborative piece really, the piece took Dovecot Tapestry Studio three years to make, the labour undertaken by five weavers. Surrounding the weaving are dancers, drawn onto the wall from the cornice to the skirting by members of the Royal Opera House scenography department. The drawings look like they’ve been done in graphite or a soft HB pencil and are actually panel installations, created just like the ROH’s backdrops.

What is really magical is how the translation of Ofili’s original watercolours into thread. The tonal gradations really look like they’ve been painted on in a wash of water and paint. It reminds me of the Shadow Tissue technique, where thread was printed before being woven to create blurred images. I can only guess how the weaver’s achieved this affect. The work was funded by The Clothworkers Company who will now host the work in the Clothworker’s Hall.

Practitioner – Margo Selby


Margo Selby is a weaver who designs colourful, geometric cloths. She has branched out into bedlinen, flooring and towels. Her designs often feature coloured circles on a contrasting background so she must be very conscious of the affect these colours will have on one another when she is putting together her colour schemes. Her woven fabrics incorporate hand and industrial techniques to create a 3D affect where the circles are built up in the fabric.

Her colour palette involves a lot of hues on the lighter and darker values rather than vivid and bright hues.


Practitioner – Ptolemy Mann

Ptolemy Mann is a weaver and colour consultant. She was taught about colour and its use in textiles by Garth Lewis, who as colour specialist at Central St Martins has gone on to create his own software that assists designers with mixing colour in a digital design. She writes about colour on her blog, significant colour, and offers colour consultancy to architectural projects.


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