Following a sell-out event, we speak to in-house archivist Anna Buruma about the importance of the Liberty archive and what it means to the future of Liberty Fabrics…
How did you get into archiving? I was very very lucky, I was a mature student doing an art history MA at the Courtauld Institute and one of my tutors who is a textile historian thought I would make a good archivist (she recognised my nerdish side!) and when she was asked to set up a project to catalogue the Liberty archive she put me in place.
Why is the archive so important to the design process? We see the archive as Liberty’s DNA. Although you can find pretty much any kind of design in Liberty’s archive, there is always a Liberty signature to its style, that is what designers want to learn when they are designing the next collection.
Where do you start when it comes to reworking archive prints? Archive prints are usually used as reference for new designs, occasionally they are brought up to date by redrawing, rescaling and/or recolouring.
What are your favourite prints? Liberty has some very quirky prints buried in the archive. It seems that particularly the Victorians and the mid-20th century designers put in some playful and sometimes plain weird designs. Those are the ones I like because they are so unexpected.
What’s been your most memorable moment at Liberty? There are many memorable moments, but I treasure the time that Junya Watanabe came into the archive and thought he had landed in a sweetie shop!