GP & J Baker’s heritage Rockbird and Oriental Bird designs

Capturing the very essence of GP & J Baker, the exceptional Signature Print Collection is a perfect illustration of the company’s celebrated heritage. Some of its most beautiful and iconic designs have been given gorgeous contemporary colourways, ranging from soft blue and blush to deep dark indigo designed to enhance the delicate elegance of Oriental Bird and the bold drama of Rockbird.

Design Insider explore the heritage of GP & J Baker, as well as the Signature Prints collection’s most notable designs: Oriental Bird and Rockbird.

Design Insider GP&J Baker Archive

GP & J Baker was founded in 1884 by brothers George Percival and James Baker who were avid and discerning collectors of rare and iconic designs, the brothers began what has become one of the largest and most exciting privately owned textile archives in the world. George Percival and James were initially concerned with the import of Persian, Turkish and Turkoman carpets which they would re-export to Paris and the United States, they gradually progressed to textiles. George Percival’s respect for Oriental art influenced the company’s early printed designs; many inspired by imported embroideries and carpet patterns. 

By 1893 GP & J Baker was employing some of the leading Arts and Crafts designers of the time and an in-house studio led by W.J. Thomas began developing designs from the extensive archive. Many of the company’s most popular designs, originated in the early 1900s have had such appeal that they have remained in the GP & J Baker collections over the past 100 years and thus have become part of the enduring GP & J Baker style.  

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“The colour ways in the collection range from elegant and delicate to bold and dramatic, this allows for a multitude of design schemes to be created by layering the designs together or combining with the smaller scale geometric prints offered in the Signature Collection which have been designed to complement the larger scale floral prints.” – Ann Grafton, MD & Creative Director, GP & J Baker. 

The prints offered in the Signature Print collection are part of GP & J Baker’s unique DNA. They are some of the most treasured, most recognisable and most iconic designs. These prints include Hydrangea Bird, inspired by a fragment of Chinese wallpaper dating back from the 18th century and originally hand block printed, it depicts majestic pheasants in an exotic flowering tree. Hydrangea Bird has remained in constant demand since it was originally painted in 1917, and is now available in a new indigo colour way that feels at home in contemporary interiors.

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Oriental Bird from the Signature Print Collection is a beautiful and delicate bird and branch design, reminiscent of traditional antique Chinese wallpapers. Around 1910 GP&J Baker began to produce patterns on a more delicate scale to suit the slender grace of Edwardian furnishings. The fabric gets it name from the crested bird, evoking the exoticism of the miniature paintings of Mughal India. It is a beautiful and delicate bird and branch design, reminiscent of traditional antique Chinese wallpapers.

Rockbird from the Signature Print Collection was originally drawn by the talented textile designer, William Turner in the early 20th century, Rockbird has been consistently included within the GP & J Baker collections since 1912. Inspiration came from Chinese artwork that Turner had seen in the British Museum; it features magnificent flowering magnolia tree and exotic flowers with two pheasants perched on rocks at the bottom of the tree. This design was first produced as a block print using 17 colours. We are seeing a move towards more pattern and decoration, and all over print Rockbird sits beautifully in this trend, whether it is in soft paired back hues or the bold multicolour it is a fantastic design for layering with textures and other prints. Maximalism is having a significant resurgence in both interiors and fashion and the rich, highly patterned, authentic designs in this collection reflect this mood of eclecticism perfectly. 

Design Insider GP&J Baker Sofa

We asked Ann Grafton what the process was behind selecting the colourways…

“Creating colour ways is always an exciting process, often there are designs that simply just suit a particular colour story, it might be that this is the original colourway the artist painted the design in and it feels the most natural. Other designs can carry a wide range of colourways, Rockbird is one such design, it is an all-over print with detailed vignettes of lovebirds and pheasants perched on rocks and on the branches of a trailing magnolia tree, it works fantastically well in highly saturated multicolour tones on a dark ground and equally well in paired back muted tones of duck egg and soft blue on a neutral ground, meaning it can work in a range of interiors and decoration styles. The GP & J Baker archive consists of a spectacular array of designs collected since the company was founded in 1884, access to this wonderful resource means we have the opportunity to see how the use of colour has changed over time and working with our design team, take these iconic designs and create colour ways that ensure they are relevant to contemporary interiors today, continuing the journey of these signature prints.”

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Oriental Bird and Rockbird are designs that are treasured amongst GP & J Baker customers and will be in homes across the country and in-fact the world, as GP & J Baker is widely distributed.

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About Meg Vockins

Meg is the Marketing and Membership Executive for BCFA. She enjoys writing about the different projects companies have been involved in, as well as new product ranges that are interesting and colourful! If you would like to appear in the Design Insider Live please do send over an email to
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