'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.


Shop online

Footwear Design (Paperback)

Footwear Design (Paperback)

Footwear design has become the new dream career, and this book is the first guide to show the key skills and tips behind the trade, for both budding d…

Buy now

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

14 March – 2 August 2015. Celebrating the extraordinary creative talent of one of the most innovative designers of recent times, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty is the first and largest retrospective of McQueen's work to be presented in Europe.

Visit the V&A exhibition Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

Event - From Word to Image and Back Again: Iconographyand Symbolism in Medieval Art

Mon 20 April 2015–Mon 22 June 2015

EIGHT WEEK COURSE: Through the long period of the Middle Ages a repertory of images developed. Drawn from Christian and Romantic texts, they were formulated in response to the conceptual significance of each text.

Book online