"Good design is good business … Few people - even those only remotely interested in commercial art - can have failed to see this slogan … A design may be aesthetically perfect and its colouring a la mode, but, if it is too far behind or even too much in front of the ever-changing trends, then its business potential is nil."
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This observation, written some four decades before the demise of the once mighty luxury carpet manufacturing industry in the west of Scotland, forms the perfect introduction to Interwoven Connections, a fascinating exhibition which starts next Saturday at Glasgow School of Art (GSA).
Later in The Glenpatrick Journal article, St Clair, who worked as a colourist at Stoddard's (a specialist job which saw him taking a design and translating the colour into yarn), went into detail about the carpet design process. In an average year, he wrote, studio staff at Stoddard's "sharpen 475 pencils, wear out 97 erasers and apply 700lb of paint to some 10,500 square inches of paper, at the expense of 960 brushes".
It is detail like this, alongside a wealth of rare folios, books, photographs, designs and carpet samples, which make Interwoven Connections a must-see.
For 162 years, the two companies of Stoddard's and Templeton Carpets were in the business of manufacturing the finest carpets money could buy. Kings, queens, maharajas, movie stars, US presidents and first-class passengers on the world's most luxurious liners all benefited from the innovation and quality of carpets designed at Stoddard's and at Templeton's.
Templeton's in particular, was regarded as one of the world's finest manufacturer of one-off quality carpets, creating coverings for coronations in Westminster Abbey in 1911, 1937 and 1953. In 1861, on moving into the White House, Abraham Lincoln's wife Mary commissioned Templeton's to produce "a new carpet of Glasgow manufacture ingeniously made all in one piece which had designs of fruit and flowers in vases, wreaths and bouquets".
Leading designers such as Charles Voysey, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Mary Quant are just some of the names who designed carpets for the two companies. Artist and writer John Byrne worked at Stoddard's Elderslie factory for a short period. He later went on to write his Slab Boys trilogy of plays based on his experience of working in "the small, paint-spattered dungeon where the apprentice designers mixed and ground colours for the design department".
The carpets were manufactured by an army of workers at the Stoddard factory in Elderslie, Renfrewshire and in Bridgeton, Glasgow, where Templeton Carpets was based until 1980. Following on from the advent of tufted carpets made from synthetic fibres, as well as computer-aided design and manufacturing, by the late 1960s and 1970s the decline of Scotland's carpet industry was clear for all to see.
The merged company, Stoddard International plc, went into liquidation in 2005, but in 2009 its unique archive of designs, patterns and carpets, including those made for the Titanic, as well as the James Cameron feature film of the same name, was bought by the University of Glasgow, GSA and Glasgow Museums.
For the first time, the public will now be able to see some of the rich archive material from the Stoddard Templeton Design Studio and Library at GSA. Some of the designs in sample books are as fresh today as the day they were made. Books with exotic titles such as 18 Plates Of Ornamental Tiles From The Afghan Boundary Commission were brought back from foreign countries by the firms' directors for the designers who didn't travel.
There are paint splodges, smudge marks and pencil doodles on these folios, revealing how much of a working tool they were. Many were created using the exquisite pochoir stencilling technique, used from the late 1800s in Parisian commercial colouring.
Interwoven Connections is divided into three sections. The first focuses on the Stoddard Templeton Design Library. The second looks at the Design Studio and features the companies' timeline, showing various studios and designers through photographs and extracts from publications. Much of the material has been loaned by private individuals and has never been seen in public before.
The third section builds a picture of the design process and includes items from the design library, as well as sketches, carpet pattern designs and a selection of carpet samples, finished carpets, books and catalogues.
The exhibition has been curated by GSA researcher Dr Helena Britt, who has been living and breathing carpet design as part of a post-doctoral research project on the archive and its role in the design process.
"I'm a lecturer with a background in printed textiles," she says. "I really had no knowledge of carpets, but in the past year I have become immersed in this world.
"Going through the archive and interviewing people who worked in the industry has been a fascinating experience."
It's clear the expertise of people who worked at Stoddard Templeton, as much as the design process, made the finished product so unique. Browsing through photographs, we gaze upon the image of one John Eadie MBE who worked in Templeton's design room for 75 years. He died three months after he retired in 1957, aged 89, having worked with the company since 1888.
As John St Clair wrote a few years later in the Stoddart company newsletter: "Nothing of the outsider's conception of normal office routine belongs here."
Interwoven Connections: The Stoddard Templeton Design Studio And Design Library 1843-2005 runs at Glasgow School of Art from November 9 until January 11 (www.gsa.ac.uk). If you worked in a Stoddard Templeton design studio and would like to contribute to the project, please contact email@example.com