Marianne Straub

Hailed the ‘most celebrated textile designer of her generation’ by The Times, Marianne Straub
studied for a City & Guilds in Weaving Mechanics at Bradford Technical College in 1932.

Daughter of textile merchant Karl Straub and his wife Cēcile Kappeler, Marianne Straub was born on 23rd September 1909 in Amriswil, Switzerland. She went on to become one of Britain’s leading textile designers of the 20th Century. A student of Art at the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Applied Arts) in Zurich, Marianne specialised in Hand Weaving and Textiles before coming to Bradford Technical College in 1932 to study for a City & Guilds in Weaving Mechanics.

After completing her formal studies, she experimented further with draft plans, yarns, colour and weaves on 4 shaft hand looms, working at Ethel Mairet’s Gospels Studio in Ditchling. She then learned mass production techniques whilst working as a Consultant Designer for the Rural Industries Bureau from 1934. In 1937 she was appointed Head Designer at Helios Ltd of Bolton, where she created a range of woven and printed fabrics from her own designs, and moved to Warner & Son Ltd of Braintree in 1950 until 1970.

Her most famous and distinctive designs were probably those for Frank Pick, Design Patron and Chief Executive of the London Passenger Transport Board. In durable moquette, the public saw and touched her designs on the seats of buses and trains as they went about their daily business. She also designed fabrics for the Queen Mary and QE2 and for furniture designers Parker Knoll and Ercol.

In 1953, Marianne went to live in the village of Great Bardfield in Essex, home of many talented artists. They formed a group, known as the Great Bradfield Artists and held ‘open house’ exhibitions in the summers of 1954, 1955 and 1958. They were such a success, due to the novelty of viewing the work in the artist’s home and extremely positive press reviews, that they held touring exhibitions in 1957, 1958 and 1959.

Whilst designing for Warner, Marianne was appointed Lecturer at a number of Colleges. She joined The Central School of Art & Design in 1958 and became Head of the Textile Department, moving to Hornsey College of Art in 1963 and the Royal College of Art in 1968.

Marianne published Hand Weaving and Cloth Design in 1977, and her biography was written by Mary Schoeser in 1984. She was made an Honorary Fellow of 3 Academic Institutions, the Royal College of Art in 1981, Liverpool Polytechnic in 1991 and the Textile Institute in 1994, where she was awarded the Misha Black Memorial Medal. She was also awarded the distinction Royal Designer for Industry in 1972 by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

Marianne died on 8th November 1994.