Collier Campbell Textile Design

The South Bank is brimful of creativity this Summer! Behold the giant Urban Fox by Pirate Technics, made entirely from bales of straw (and two very baleful giant glass eyes!)… Or the Dishoom Chowpatty Beach Pop-Up, made from recycled materials and serving exotic street food and drinks. Not to mention Tracey Emin at the Hayward.

To truly get your creativity going, check out this wonderful textile exhibition at the Lyttelton Gallery, National Theatre. Collier Campbell, an enduring British heritage company that is entering its sixth decade, was founded by sisters Susan Collier and Sarah Campbell. Sadly Susan died recently, but was instrumental in setting up this beautiful and inspiring retrospective. Collier Campbell collaborated with many great design houses such as Jaeger, Yves Saint Laurent, Cacharel, Habitat and Liberty of London. Renowned Fashion Designer Bill Gibb used their prints in some of his creations. The prints and original design paintings displayed speak a lively, joyful, unfussy, colourful language, often incorporating birds and other wild life, reminiscent of Raoul Dufy, that appeals to both sexes.

Sarah Campbell spoke to me about their shared design practice, based on a desire to push for invention and creativity, letting seasonality show in the colouring. She is not a fan of digital based design, mainly because of the limitations in size. To her, the direct relationship and size is very important. Which makes sense. As an example she suggested if you’re creating a design meant for an entire sofa then it’s so much more flowing to have one large design rather than a bunch of small ones patched together. “The scale is very important – that’s what I understand and love, the hands-on process of creating a design directly is paramount.”

Collier Campbell have designed ranges for both Marks & Spencer and House of Fraser this season, pieces that reflect their design ethos and which are incredibly reasonable in price. They also do a more personal range, available from their own website. Do have a look and invest in a piece of British design history.

Collier Campbell
Current – 10th July 2011
National Theatre
South Bank
London SE1 9PX

Words by Anna Bang

Example of an early sketch

Typical Collier Campbell vibrant design

Sarah Campbell at work in her studio

Example of one of the ‘Tote Art’ bags available from the Collier Campbell website


Bill Gibb, Cacharel, Collier Campbell, Habitat, Liberty of London, National Theatre, Yves Saint Laurent,