Marianne Straub Swiss weaver and designer

Marianne Straub was a Swiss designer and weaver and designer she was born in Amriswil. But her career grew in Britain from the time she entered Bradford Technical College (in the middle of the Yorkshire wool industry) in 1932 to expand her knowledge of powerloom weaving. Straub’s mother vetoed Germany as a location for further training because her mother wasn’t sure she could rescue Straub from jail.

Queen Elizabeth II on Piccadilly line 1973

Interior of Piccadilly line 1973 tube stock. Her Majesty the Queen inspects the new Piccadilly car on the day of the opening of the Piccadilly line Extension to Heathrow Central Station, 16 December 1977. The seats are upholstered with designer Marianne Straub’s blue/green moquette pattern


Marianne Straub began weaving as a child and later trained under Heinrich Otto Hürlimann Between 1928-31, at the Kunstgewerbeschule, Zürich. Between 1932-33, she was involved with machine production, at Bradford Technical College.


Marianne Straub

by Geoffrey Ireland
bromide print on card mount, 1950s

An experimenter, Straub used vegetable dyes in her fabrications of the 1920s and 1930s. She also explored materials such as bamboo, mica, metal and fibreglass, cellophane and paper yarns. She worked in a Swiss cotton mill and under weaver Ethel Mairet in Britain. Between 1934-37, she revitalised the Rural Industries Bureau’s flagging production for the 77 Welsh Woollen Mills, including upholstery fabrics used by Gordon Russell. 

Helmsley | Straub, Marianne | V&A Search the Collections

This furnishing fabric, called ‘Helmsley’, was designed by Marianne Straub for Warner & Sons Limited in 1951, and was inspired by the crystal-structure diagram for nylon. Warner & Sons Limited, founded in 1870 as a silk-weaving company, was one of the best-known producers of high quality domestic woven and printed furnishings. Straub had become the head designer at the firm in 1950, having previously designed for Helios Limited in Lancashire. ‘Helmsley’ is an example of a distinct type of pattern that emerged from the Festival of Britain in 1951, which was inspired by crystal-structure diagrams that recorded the arrangements of atoms in various substances. Here, the different circles represent atoms at separate levels within the nylon structure.

She began weaving in her home, simultaneously working in industrial methods in a small cotton mill. Between 1937 and 1950, she was a designer at Helios, a division of Barlow and Jones, and, in the late 1940s, its managing· director. At Helios, she worked on a dobby loom and was responsible for significant advances in the production of contemporary fabrics on power looms and set a precedent for hand weaves for mass production. 

If more designers tried out the things they were designing, fewer bad designs would result. It’s often apparent when a man has designed an object a woman uses every day.

Marianne Straub

1950-1970, she designed contemporary fabrics for Warner, the successor to Helios, ‘including the 1951 Festival Pattern Group, a program established by the Council of Industrial Design for materials for the 1951 ‘Festival of Britain’ exposition. Her 1951 Surrey curtain fabric for the program (initially installed in the Regatta Restaurant at the Festival) was printed under license by 26 manufacturers. “Helmsley” was designed for Warner and Sons, was a Jacquard weave based on the structure of nylon.

Fry Gallery – The Collection – Artist’s Biography

The collection / Artists / Marianne Straub Name: Marianne Straub Lived: 1909 – 1992 Qualifications: Marianne Straub was one of the leading designers of textiles in Britain during the 1940s, 50s and 60s. She was born in the village of Amriswil, Switzerland on 23 September 1909.

Hand Weaving and Cloth Design by Marianne Straub – Encyclopedia of Design

The book consists of a Glossary of weaving terms and explains yarn choices, yarn count, warp calculations, and yarn quantities. Talks about Handlooms of various types, how to prepare the loom, methods of weaving, weave notation. Also discusses Plain weave, twill weave, satin and sateen weave, basic weave combinations, compound weaves and multilayer cloths, pile fabrics, gauze and leno fabrics.

Straub was a consultant designer to Tamesa Fabrics and Heal Fabrics. She taught widely, including at the Central School of Arts and Crafts and the Royal College of Art, both in London. Up to the 1980s, she was· active as designer and teacher. She published the book Hand Weaving and Cloth Design (1977). Her Tamesa range was used on oceanliners 1934 Queen Mary and 1965-68 Queen Elizabeth II. 


Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Creating artwork to sit upon Marianne Straub has devoted much of her career to quietly designing fabric for public places. INTERVIEW: [all edition]. (1990, Aug 07). The Christian Science Monitor (Pre-1997 Fulltext) Retrieved from

Schoeser, M., & Phillips, B. (1991). Fabrics and wallpapers: design sources and inspiration. Ebury Press.

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