Marianne Straub archive

Scope and Content

The archive consists of woven textiles samples.

Full descriptions & dimensions of all the samples are listed in the archives's catalogue. Dates of samples are given where know.

Administrative / Biographical History

Marianne Straub was born in 1909  in Amriswill, a Swiss village not far from Lake Contance. Her father was a textile yarn merchant. Between the ages of 3 and a half and 8 years, she spent much of her time in hospital receiving treatment for tuberculosis. During this and other forced periods of inactivity, she developed an interest in textiles, requesting at the age of 12 or 13 a narrow strip loom that she had seen at her aunt's house.

She studied art at Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich in the late 1920's . She became interested in lettering through the books of Edward Johnston, which had recently been published in German. Weaving classes were taught be Heinz Otto Hrlimann, who had trained at the Bauhaus and she spent additional time with him in his studio during her holidays, using the swivel loom. After leaving Kunstgewerbeschule and deciding to work as an industrial weaver she worked as a technician's assistant at a local mill, Maurer's Weberei in Amriswill. In 1932  she came to Bradford Technical College to extend her knowledge of power weaving and build on her Bauhaus-inspired craft training.

She subsequently met Ethel Mairet and was invited to work at Gospels, where she introduced doublecloth. Although she stayed at Gospels for less than a year, she continued to visit on a regular basis until 1937  and travelled with Mairet on three European trips, visiting Finland, Paris, Germany and Switzerland. Straub became the chief executor of Gospels when Mairet died in 1952  and was instrumental in setting up the Crafts Study Centre in Bath, becoming one of its founder trustees in 1970 .

From 1934  until 1975  Straub worked for the textile industry, initially with a small number of Welsh Mills to raise the design standards and production in Welsh woollens. Her background in both industrial and Arts and Crafts practice enabled her to appreciate the special qualities of the yarns and cloths produced by these mills. She was able to find new markets for their textiles among modernist furniture manufacturers and architects. Straub joined Helios, a subsidiary of Barlow and Jones and producer of cotton domestic items, as head designer in 1937  where she produced an average of 50 new designs a year. During the World War II, she coped with the challenge of producing yarns with a limited range of available colours. Helios also wove fabrics for Morton Sundour and its subsidiary Edinburgh Weavers. Their range included a collection of hand screen-printed furnishing fabrics commissioned or bought from freelance designers by Straub. The Helios range was marketed through the Barlow & Jones' London showroom and sold to retailers such as Heals, as well as those abroad. Helios also undertook commissions for interiors and Straub contributed towards these designs. Straub became managing director of Helios in 1947  following Felix Leowenstein's death, whilst still maintaining responsibility for its artistic direction and the design of its wovens range. She left to designed fabrics for Warner and later for Tamesa from 1952  until 1971 , when she retired and moved to Cambridge.

She always retained her own spinning wheel and handloom and used them to work out weave structures. While living in Great Bardfield, Essex she designed fabrics for Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious.


The archive material is arranged in the original order in which it was deposited at the CSC.

Conditions Governing Access

The archival material may be viewed by appointment only.


This entry was compiled by Becky Lyle, Submissions Officer for the project and by Jean Vacher, Collections Manager at the Crafts Study Centre. The biography was written by Frances Lord.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue is available onsite.

Conditions Governing Use

The photocopying of archival material is not allowed. Written permission must be sought before any archival material is published.

Appraisal Information

None timetabled


None expected

Related Material

The Crafts Study Centre holds other material relating to the Marianne Straub archive in the

  • Ethel Mairet archive
  • Ethel Mairet textile archive
  • Ethel Mairet sample books
  • Peter Collingwood archive
  • Edward Johnston

Also see access points


Selected bibliography

Schoeser, Mary, Marianne Straub The Design Council, 1984