Paperblanks Stories is a blog series about the origins and stories behind some of our Collections.

Patterns Inspired by the Natural World

A well-respected bookshop owner in London once sold us a set of paper and silk swatch books dating to the late 18th and early 19th centuries. To this day, these books remain a veritable treasure chest of ideas. Calling up the intricate hand-painted and block-printed art from another era, these swatch books contain possibilities and ideas crafted from the golden age of French textile design.

All of the swatches were originally designed to use as templates for the mass production of fabric, but we wanted to transfer the delicate beauty of these designs to the medium of paper instead.

Selecting the patterned textiles and paintings we liked, we began to create journal covers, wanting to re-create these delicate swatches to the form of the book.   We wondered how the designs would translate onto paper.  We didn’t know, but believed it could work.

We finally selected and decided upon our theme: Lyon Florals, with each of the swatches chosen providing a glimpse into the rarefied world of French textile design.

Dating from the 1860s through to the early 1900s, the designs are inspired by a striking pattern featuring elements from the natural word.

They became the basis for Paperblanks’ Lyon Florals Collection of journals and guest books:


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