A well-known architect and designer, Charles Francis Annesly Voysey, is commonly associated with the British Arts & Crafts movement. Born in 1857, he was initially educated by his father, and then, for a short time, he went to Dulwich College.
His designing adventure began with 5 years of training under the artistic management of J. P. Seddon, from whom he learnt the ‘Gothic’ principles of design. Voysey spent another year with his ‘teacher’, becoming his chief assistant. The next step in his career was to assist the architect Henry Saxon Snell. Subsequently, he started to work in the office of George Devey. During that time he gained valuable experience and opened his own business in London in 1881/early 1882.
He was a multifaceted designer. Not only did he create projects of furniture, wallpapers, fabrics, carpets, ceramics but also he was engaged in graphic design. As for furniture, he was an enthusiast of high quality materials (like unpolished oak) and well balanced elements in a particular composition.
Voysey is recognized for his flat patterns on carpets, wallpapers, fabrics and tiles. What is characteristic of his pattern designs are rhythmically contrasted shapes, clear colors and dark or pale outlines. For instance, birds or plants, which are positive shapes, contrast with negative ones. Generally, the style of Voysey can be divided into several stages. Through the late 1880, his works tend to include historically-influenced recurring elements, while by the mid 1890s his most original works appeared, consisting of patterns in pastel colors with motifs of birds, florals and hearts.
Voysey drew his inspirations from the work of William Morris, the Arts & Crafts Movement, and Art Nouveau. Claiming that simplicity in decoration is one of the most significant qualities, he was an advocate of form and function, ignoring ornamental intricacies.
During his long career, he designed for numerous firms, including Donegal Carpets. Today the collection of Voysey’s work (drawings, carpets, wallpapers and fabrics) can be seen at the Victoria and Albert Museum. In order to commemorate this prominent figure in the world of design, the C. F. A. Voysey’s Society was formed in 2011.