Dr. Marianne Straub

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Marianne Straub was born in Amriswill, Switzerland, in September 1909.With the influence of her father who was a textile merchant, Straub studied weaving at the school of arts and crafts in Zurich, (1928-31). She then completed her technical training at Bradford Technical College, (1932-33) she was the only woman attending at the time and the third in history at the college. It was at Bradford where Marianne that Straub displayed her talent for cloth construction and visualization of fabrics. After finishing her course, she was invited to work at Ethel Mairet’s Gospels studio at Ditchling where she further developed her hand loom techniques such as spinning.
 By the mid 1930s Straub was working as a consultant designer for the Welsh milling industry where she learned about mass production of textiles. In 1937 she joined the firm of Helios, an independent subsiduary of the Lancashire firm Barlow & Jones Ltd. She worked as head designer and developed a range of reasonably priced woven and printed fabrics based on her own designs, before moving to the firm of Warners based in Braintree, Essex, in 1950. Her manipulation of warp spacing and weave structures helped the mid-century understand ton-and-texture fabrics .Throughout the 1950s Straub was closely associated with the north Essex village of Great Bardfield, which became famous for its small community of talented artists, amongst them Edward Bawden. Straub was actively involved in the Festival of Britain and provided fabrics for the Ragatta Restaurant, at the Festival’s South Bank site in London. Several fabrics designed by Straub for Warners, including Broadstairs, were commissioned by Misha Black of DRU, mainly for use in the interiors of ships, such as the SS ‘Oriana’ in 1960. Her fabrics have also been displayed in plains, trains, colleges, and government buildings. According to Lesley Jackson, Straub became known for her ‘enlarged, free form organic pattern’, (Jackson, 2007) In 1964, she designed upholstery fabric, which was later used on the Piccadilly Line and on London Transport buses.On her retirement from Warners in 1971, Straub left Great Bardfield and moved to Cambridge.
As well as her design work, Straub was also an important textile teacher, having begun teaching at the Central School of Art, London in 1956. She later taught at Hornsey College of Art before moving on to the Royal College of Art, both in London.
Straub wrote a book entitled Hand Weaving and Cloth Design, Viking 1977, and in 1972 was awarded the distinction Royal Designer for Industry (RDI). She was also awarded the Sir Misha Black medal in 1993. She was a apart of the Society of Industrial Artists and Designers (SIAD). In 2004 Marianne Straub passed away being remembered for over fifty years of nourishing, even battling for, the integrity of cloth and creativity of those who wish to make it well as said by Mary Schoeser.

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