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8 Textile Design Reference Books You Need Now

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

As any artist or designer knows, good reference books are EVERYTHING. When super inspiring imagery goes in, fabulous work comes out. Well we like to think so, anyway! Here in the LPD studio we draw on the imagery of our reference library, daily. We don’t know where we’d be without it!

Creative director, Bec gives you a tour of our most used, most loved (and most dog-earred!) textile design bibles on the shelf. We highly recommend them to our Print School students, and anyone with a passion for print design.

Some of them will be easy to source. Some of them are very old and might require a dig around second hand book stores, flea markets and online auctions.

Longina Phillips Designs Reference Books

Chintz Indian Textiles of The West

“I think its the colour that really draws me to this book. It’s super rich and pleasing.  It’s like the entire book is a coordinating collection. Not only that, but the level of detail in each petal is mind blowing when you think about how long it would have taken these designers to produce each artwork. It is full of inspiring layouts, from borders and scarf-type layouts, with every page a feast for the eyes.”

2. The Aloha Shirt, Thames & Hudson

Aloha Shirts

“We have a few Hawaiian shirt books, but this one seems to have the most variety and also really cool ones.  Other Hawaiian shirt books show some really ugly yellow and brown numbers!  This one just seems to have cool vintage looks. It’s a timeless book too, as tropical and Hawaiian trends are always in fashion. So as new designers come on board they see something different from the next person, and the cycle of inspiration continues.”

Flowers of The World

“This is a very well researched book, so if you really want the origins and intricacies of flowers, this is for you.  But for us, it’s the delicate botanical paintings that are so lovely.  It’s like a magical garden that just keeps on giving.”

Silk Designs of the 20th C

“I love the stylised nature of these beautiful florals.  Although they have a distinctively old world charm, they are modern in their colouration.  This book has been in our library for a long time and I still stumble on pages that I feel I’ve never seen before.  I guess it depends on what’s trending or what your surroundings have been subconsciously telling you, but no matter what the trend, there is always inspiration in this book. Also, its big and chunky, and not too many pages are wasted on words!”

Kew Gardens Colouring Book

“A great study of flowers.  There are coloured illustrations next to the black and white sketch, so you can really analyse each flower and practice your knowledge of how it grows and therefore improve your drawing.”

Plants of 1917

7. Russian Textiles: Printed Cloth for the Bazaars of Central Asia, Harry N. Abrams

Russian Textiles

Promo for Print School Photoshop Course. Text reads: 'Focus on: Photoshop for Textile Design: Illustration. Kick-start my career'. Image is black and white text on pale olive green and includes storyboard examles and iPad.

“Ok, this is very Soviet red! Something that kind of turns me off, but there is also an abundance of different styles in here, from Ikat to florals.  Not a page goes by that you don’t find some little gem of inspiration.”

8. World Textile Collections, Kyoto Shoin

World Textile Collections

“These books are at least 30 years old. They are well read, a little torn. with pages falling out, but they are an amazing source of textile designs through the ages.  If you want to really get to know your modern era’s of textiles, then these are great.  There is also no reading!  It’s just pages of images. They are a bit of a go to when certain eras come into fashion.  There is a 10 to 20 year cycle of trends so these range from 50s to 80s, which tend to be the repetitive trends that come and go over the years.”


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