Owen Jones (1809-1874) British architect and ornamental designer

Stunning pattern from Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones
Stunning pattern from Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones

Owen Jones (1809-1874) was a British architect and ornamental designer. He studied at the Royal Academy in London and under the architect L. Vuillamy (1825–31).

Arabic influences

During the 1830s, he travelled extensively and was mainly influenced by Arabic ornamentation. 

He was a member of the influential Victorian artist and educator Henry Cole’s circle in the 1840s, joining the Society of Arts in 1847 and serving as Superintendent of Works at the 1851 Great Exhibition.

Fire Surround fireplace by Owen Jones
Fireplace consisting of earthenware mosaic tiles mounted onto an upright surround and horizontal hearth and glazed in black, white, blue, green and orange. Designed by Owen Jones for the Alhambra Court, Crystal Palace

Jones’ textile study, as well as four articles and approval of his design for the London shop front for Chappells, the music publishers, appeared in Cole’s Journal of Design the same year. In 1852, he was appointed joint director of the Crystal Palace’s decoration, which reopened in Sydenham in 1854 and featured his colourful designs for the Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Alhambra Courts. Jones’s particular design strengths were in interior decoration, for which he produced carpets, wallpapers, and furniture.

TABLE AND CHAIRS ENGLISH: 1872 Designed by Owen Jones (1809-1874)
TABLE AND CHAIRS ENGLISH: 1872 Designed by Owen Jones (1809-1874)


He received gold medals for projects shown at the International Exhibitions in Paris in 1867 and Vienna in 1873, after previously receiving the Royal Institute of British Architects’ gold medal (1857).


Jones’s book The Grammar of Ornament (1856), which presented a vast selection of colourful and informative chromolithographic plates taken from a wide variety of cultures and periods to an international readership, was one of his most influential contributions. The concepts discussed in articles for the Journal of Design and lectures given at the Royal Society of Arts and Marlborough House in London formed the basis for this Grammar. An Attempt to Define the Principles which Should Regulate the Employment of Colour in the Decorative Arts (1852) and Plans, Elevations, Sections, and Details of the Alhambra (1842–5) were among Jones’s many other works.


Woodham, J. M. (2006). A dictionary of modern design. Oxford University Press.

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