From the Stoddard Design Archive: Taylor Studio, Polmont

By Lin Cunningham, MLitt Dress and Textiles Histories

Postgraduate Placement

Figure 1 Design by Taylor Studio, Polmont STOD/DES/122/4/8, gouache on paper, 45cm x 41cm Glasgow University Archive Services

Figure 1 STOD/DES/122/4/8, Glasgow University Archive Services

The Stoddard-Templeton collection includes work by some very well-known and prestigious twentieth-century designers, names that are still recognisable today. But what of the designs which bear less familiar and recognisable names – is it possible to find out more about them? Two such designs are simply stamped Taylor Studio, Polmont (fig 1 and 3). This hints at a Scottish address, and possibly a Scottish designer. The design itself is of stylised leaves and flowers, and could possibly be dated to the 1930s. So the task was to find a design studio that had existed near Edinburgh more than eighty years ago.

Figure 2 Illustration of carpet designed by David Taylor in British Textile Designers Today, 1939, from the Stoddard Design Library by permission of the Glasgow School of Art, Special Collections.

Figure 2 Illustration from the Stoddard Design Library by permission of the Glasgow School of Art, Special Collections.

The Stoddard Design Library, now held by the Glasgow School of Art, is a fascinating collection of books and printed portfolios which were acquired for the use of the company’s in house design staff during the last century. It seemed possible that there might be some reference to this studio amongst the more than 400 titles it included. Two titles did indeed reveal some very intriguing and significant details.

 

Figure 3 Design by Taylor Studio, Polmont STOD/DES/12/4/8, gouache on paper, 45cm x 41cm Glasgow University Archive Services

Figure 3 Design by Taylor Studio, Polmont STOD/DES/12/4/8, gouache on paper, 45cm x 41cm Glasgow University Archive Services

 

 

 

 

 

British Textile Designers Today, published in 1939, is an illustrated index which includes an entry for David Taylor D.A., The Studio, Parkhill Lodge, Polmont, Stirlingshire. The entry tells us that he graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 1932 and his work as both an artist and industrial designer was in great demand. It also mentions that he regarded the restrictions of designing for carpets as a creative challenge, and one of the designs chosen to illustrate his work is indeed such a carpet – courtesy of Templetons (fig 2).

 

Figure 4 Design ‘Spanish Comb’ by David Taylor, illustrated in British Designers, Their Work Series 1, 1941 from the Stoddard Design Library by permission of the Glasgow School of Art Library, Special Collections.

Figure 4 Design  from the Stoddard Design Library by permission of the Glasgow School of Art Library, Special Collections.

His work also appears in the printed portfolio British Designers, Their Work Series 1, the dynamic style shows the breadth and quality of his designs, which were also used as printed furnishing fabrics (fig 4). He stated that he did not regard designing as work, but as a ‘joy’.

Although David Taylor is a name that is less familiar to us today, it would appear that it belonged to a well-respected and successful textile designer, who had indeed once lived and worked in Scotland, more than eighty years ago.



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