Omega and Beyond

Omega Workshops and The Bloomsbury Group

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"It is time that the spirit of fun was introduced into furniture and into fabrics." Roger Fry

Charleston interior  © The Charleston Trust

Omega Workshops opened in July 1913 - the artists involved were members of The Bloomsbury Group... Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry and Duncan Grant. They were inspired by the work of Arts & Crafts pioneer William Morris, and like Morris, wanted to combine art with design, reject the new mass production and remove the separation between fine art and craft. 

Following in the Arts & Crafts tradition they felt that a well-crafted chair or a beautiful textile design was every bit as important as a fine painting, their work also grew out of a love of nature and a desire for their designs to sit alongside their paintings.

During its short lived existence Omega Workshops produced a range of objects for the home including ceramics, furniture, rugs, glassware, and even clothing - all incorporating bold colours, geometric forms and abstract patterns. Sadly it’s closure was due to what Fry described as ‘public indifference'. It’s hard to believe when today we place so much importance on our home and many of us, interior designers and home-makers alike enjoy the creative challenge of curating a personal environment.

Monk’s House, East Sussex, the home of Virginia Wolfe, sister of Vanessa Bell, decorated by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.

Omega Workshops radical approach to home interiors and design went on to have a far-reaching effect on decoration as seen in these homewares from Anthropologie.

Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant eventually set up home at Charleston Farmhouse near Lewes in East Sussex... in May a festival takes place in celebration of their ethos and working partnership.

The garden at Charleston  © The Charleston Trust

Cressida Bell is the granddaughter of Vanessa, and while her work reflects the influence of her famous heritage, she has created her own take and unique style across a range of gorgeous decorative items... from textiles to ceramics and lamps to bespoke cakes! Samples of her beautiful work are show below - you can also visit her workshop in Hackney.

Madeleine Bradbury is a Brighton-based painter who creates hand-painted lamps, furniture and accessories inspired by the work of Omega Workshops. We have selected a number of items from her range with more than a hint of The Bloomsbury Group.

For a romantic bedroom inspired by the soft pink hues in the guest bedroom at Charleston (below left) we looked to Cox & Cox for their washed linen bedding and soft velvet chair.

We went in further search of some designs which reflect The Bloomsbury Group ethos and decorative styling. Here is a selection from Sandersons Bloomsbury Canvas Prints and Embroideries, complemented by their Bloomsbury Canvas wallpapers.

Farrow & Ball create wallpapers and richly pigmented paint colours which can be matched to any look or style you want to create. For further inspiration in-line with the design ethos of Omega Workshops we chose these colours from their colour range. 

Charleston