O is for …


Omega Workshops

3a9Omega literally means ‘Great O’ (‘mega’) and Omicron is literally ‘Little O’ (‘micro’). Omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet and is used to signify the last word on a subject.

The Omega workshop was a design enterprise that was founded by the Bloomsbury Group in 1913. It was introduced to give artistic expression to the values of the Bloomsbury Group, to provide a showcase for artists and to provide them with the means to make a living.

Roger Fry was the main man who thought that not only could artists design their own work but they could also produce and sell. This was rather like the ethos of the Hogarth Press venture that embraced the idea that writers could not only write but could print and publish their own work.

The workshops encompassed public showrooms and studios where artists could display their work and customers could view and buy. The modernist emphasis was on abstract patterns, bright colours and bold simplified forms. Designs were a form of rebellion against the drabness of mass production and were often met with hostility from the public who did not quite favour modern art.

The Omega workshops designed and produced furniture, textiles, accessories, murals, mosaics, stained glass, tableware, pottery, linens, fabrics, and expanded in to dressmaking and interior design. Products were expensive and exclusive and were featured in the Ideal Home exhibitions of the time.

Customers would range from those who bought a small item to those who had something custom made to those who requested the design and decoration of entire interiors. There was no other shop in London quite like it. However, it had a short life and closed after about six years when it ran in to financial difficulties and suffered with internal conflicts which led to a clearance sale and closure.

It did however, establish interior design as an accepted branch of art and secured the Omega designs in the history of design.

Designers and artists who were involved in Omega were never allowed to sign their name on a piece of their work. Works had to be displayed anonymously to ensure that they were bought on merit rather than on the reputation of the artist.

All pieces were marked with the Omega sign instead.



3 thoughts on “O is for …

    1. As far as I know it was nothing to do with Morris though the two ventures seem very similar. Morris’s work predates the Omega work by about fifty years. Huge similarities though with designing textiles, wallpapers, furniture and so on. Morris was associated with the Arts and Crafts movement which was prior to the Modernism associated with Omega. Both Morris and the Omega workshops had a great influence on interior design and of course Morris designs are still being produced today. The whole Omega thing was initiated by Roger Fry. I think that Morris is to Omega as Freshwater is to Bloomsbury – similar attitudes and vision but belonging to a different generation.


      1. That’s a good way of looking at it. We don’t want too many of these creative people in one generation. They are better spread out and affecting longer time periods and people.


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