'Havant' table runner and the process of design

Francis Johnston (left) and fellow designers in the drawing office at Vicars and Poirson. Museum no. AAD/2001/1/1

Francis Johnston (left) and fellow designers in the drawing office at Vicars and Poirson. Museum no. AAD/2001/1/1

Francis Johnston made a series of design sketches, from the intitial rough sketch in charcoal on detail paper to the final colour version, as seen below

Francis Johnston was born in 1889 in Upper Holloway, London and died in Southend-on-Sea on 10 May , 1965.  He was admitted to the orphan working school, Maitland Park, Haverstock Hill, London in July 1896 and left in December 1903, aged 14 years. His first and only job was at Vicars & Poirson, Newgate Street and Farringdon Road in the City of London in 1904 until he retired in 1962. The company was dissolved in 1989. The company trademark was the fleur de lis which can be seen at the top of the plate of printed instructions for the design known as ‘Havant'. Vicars & Poirson employed three or four designers up until 1939 but after 1945 Francis Johnston was the only one whom they employed.

Johnston usually produced designs in stages that can be demonstrated by a pattern showing a series of drawings of anemones and mimosa that was adapted for a table runner. This strip of textile placed across a table or dressing table for decoration is entitled ‘Havant’ after the town in Hampshire from a series of embroidery designs named after British towns.

Johnston made a series of design sketches, from the intitial rough sketch in charcoal on detail paper to the final colour version, as seen below.


Become a V&A Member

V&A Members enjoy a wealth of benefits, including free entry to exhibitions, previews, exciting events and the V&A Members’ Room. In addition, you will be supporting the vital work of the V&A.

Buy or Renew Membership Online

Event - Peter Brook: Performance, Place, Politics, Process

Sat 02 May 2015 10:30–17:30

CONFERENCE: Peter Brook Performance, Place, Politics, Process at 90 miles an hour will explore the impact on British and International theatre of the legendary director and writer giving the stage to Performers, designers and directors. Speakers will include Peter Brook and Tom Piper.

Book online