I met my good friend for lunch today at the ever-tasty City Bakery, where she generously loaned me the V&A Pattern Boxed Set (http://www.vandashop.com/product.php?xProd=3821). It's a four-book set (CDs included) of images from the Victoria and Albert Museum design archives. According to the books, the V&A has more than three million designs of textiles, decorations, prints, and wallpapers. These books, categorized as The Fifties, Indian Florals, William Morris, and Digital Pioneers are a nice taste of the breadth of the collection. Of course, the jpg files on CD cannot be used for commercial use, but can be used personally for great artwork, color/line/movement inspiration, and also provide a little slice of pattern history. Here are a couple favorites, the first one being taken from The Fifties:
From the William Morris book:
And lastly my birdland favorite:
Besides the books themselves looking pretty on a bedside table, I have a few legal ideas for the complimentary jpg files.
1. Print out a few of your favorite patterns on color paper, and frame each one with a simple black frame (example: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=32733241.) These particular frames are wide enough so that you can print on 11" x 14" paper and the frame should cover that last 1/2" you're missing on the 11" wide paper. Just trim the paper down to fit lengthwise, and voila! You could also purchase a smaller frame (6" x 6" maybe) and have more of them or place them on a smaller wall. Randomly but tightly center them on said wall and poof! Color, fun, art, cheap.
2. Another idea would be to print off more of your favorite bright patterns and decoupage the base of a plain old lamp. Decoupage is super easy- simply cut out what you would like, glue down, and cover in few coats of glue or decoupage medium. This wiki actually has a great how-to with details and tips at http://www.wikihow.com/Decoupage. Put a handsome drum shade in burlap or smooth linen and you've got a fun, artsy, homemade lamp to jazz up any room.
The book/CD box set retails for around $60, but you can find ones on Amazon for about $35. For beautiful, free patterns it's a good deal. Enjoy this find, or fly across the pond to see the V&A Museum collection live and in color.