Tibor Reich The rebirth of his mid-century textiles
Tibor Reich was one of Britain’s pioneering post-war textile designers, who brought modernity into British textiles. His company, Tibor Ltd, made its name by providing cutting-edge designs that were popular with both the public and major businesses. Born in Budapest Hungary in 1916, Reich developed a love of European modernism from an early age. In the 1930s Reich studied architecture and textiles in Vienna, before leaving Europe, with the spread of Nazism, to study textiles at Leeds University. Already a published and award winning designer he moved to Stratford upon Avon in 1946 to set up Tibor Ltd.
It was at his 19th century mill that Reich developed his unique ‘Deep Textured’ textiles. Known for their colouration and three dimensional textures, Tibor fabrics were the first examples of modern, jacquard textiles in Britain. Commissioned to produce textiles for many of the key post-war projects including the Festival of Britain, Concorde, Royal Yacht Britannia, Coventry Cathedral and QE2, he also supplied all the major contemporary British furniture manufacturers including Gordon Russell, Race, Hille, Ercol and G-Plan.
Although Reich’s work was typified by innovation and invention, one of his favourite sayings was, ‘Nature designs best’. To use natures designs in his work, he developed the revolutionary ‘Fotextur’ process by which detailed photographic segments of natural objects were re-organised to make patterns and designs. For this he won a Design Council Award in 1957. He further developed Fotextur with his 1960 Colotomic range which, based on a photograph of an atom, brought a new perspective to colour matching within the home interior.
Tibor was very much an artist whose medium was by no means just textiles. During the 1950s he designed his studio pottery range called Tigo-Ware which later was produced by Denby. Known for its black and white Scandinavian simplicity it crossed tradition with modernity by depicting Hungarian folk art, with the simple contemporary shapes of the 1950s. Throughout his 80 years he also drew prolifically exploring pattern, Hungarian folk art, female forms, nature, colour and texture. Each theme was re-occurent throughout his work whether on his weaves, prints, pottery, drawings or photography.
In 1955 Tibor designed his own experimental house. It was to become one of Britain’s uncompromising, pioneering modernist homes of the 1950s, which was used as both laboratory, showroom for his textiles and a gallery for his model car collection which by the 1980s was the largest in Europe.
A rare example of both a designer and manufacturer Tibor was a true ‘Renaissance Man’ of the twentieth century whose place in design is unique. Tibor Reich, ATI, FSIA, FRSA, received the Textile Institute’s Design medal in 1973 for his contribution to the 20th Century textile design and his influence on public taste.
His works are held in the V&A, National Museum of Stockholm, Leeds University, Geffrye Museum, Whitworth Manchester, Shakespere Centre, VADs and the Reich family archive. The archive totals in excess of 30,000 works.
In 2013, Tibor’s grandson Sam, reopened the company, making some of Tibor’s designs available once again. Fabulous work ! See more here.
Many thanks to the Tibor Reich Website for the information about his life and work, and good luck to Sam.