Angelo Testa (1921 – 1984) was an American fabric designer. He studied at the Institute of Design, Chicago, until 1945. As well as being a fabric designer, he was a painter and sculptor.
He designed the 1941 Little Man abstract floral fabric, which was widely published and hailed as a new direction in textile design. It all began, in fact, with a doodle. A free-form sketch with a dancing shape that intrigued its artist. He repeated the curious pattern, setting two others like it in a row; the first darkened within its boundaries, higher than its companions; the second shaded a tad lighter; and the third blank.
The “little man” was to have an enormous impact on the textile industry, for it eventually became part of the first collection of abstract fabrics to be mass-produced in the United States (1947), a revolutionary figure amid floral and pictorial motifs of the day.
While the traditionalists did not know what to make of Testa’s abstract designs banned in Boston, the designer became a hero to the contemporary architects and interior decorators who espoused the “less is more” philosophy that later became known as the Bauhaus School.
He introduced abstract and non-objective motifs into commercial textile design in the USA; produced motifs including Diagonals, Space Dashes, Forms within Forms, Lines in Act, and Experiments in Space. Some of these had matching wallpapers.
Clients included Greeff, Forster, Cohn-Hall-Marx, and Knoll. He executed patterns for plastic laminates, types of vinyl, and fibreglass panels — work the subject of the 1983 ‘Angelo Testa’ exhibition, College of Architecture, Chicago. Fabric designs were included in the 1984 ‘Design Since 1945’ exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
A sample of his work
DRAWING, TEXTILE DESIGN: ABSTRACTION IN RED AND BLACK, 1950S
DRAWING, TEXTILE DESIGN: ABSTRACT DESIGN IN PINK AND BLACK, 1950s
TEXTILE, FILO, 1942
TEXTILE, STILTS, 1951
DRAWING, TEXTILE DESIGN: FLAWSAT, CA. 1950
DRAWING, TEXTILE DESIGN: INDIAN HEADS, 1943
More Textile Designers
You may also be interested in
Ruhlmann used the same basic motif-a stylized Cedar of Lebanon tree set within an irregular circle-on this textile and related wallpaper (MMA 2005.334), though on the textile each motif is offset by an added circle of dots. The pattern was produced in alternate colorways.
John Rodriquez became well known for his textile designs in the early 1950’s. He introduced a unique Australian Style. His abstract textile designs included everyday household items tea towels and curtains. The materials were sunburnt Australian shades, “deep and muted, sometimes almost three dimensional”. Greys, yellows and greens were the prevailing shades.