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Published: 17 July 2021

By Andy Ross

Hull Traders

The company, Hull Traders, was a ground-breaking and innovative company in its approach to design and art. 

Hull Traders started life in 1957 as a platform to promote British craftsmanship but quickly focused on screen-print in its textile operations. Working with artists such as sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi and photographer Nigel Henderson under their Hammer Prints label before Hull Traders was formed, the company had from the outset, contemporary sensibilities, and aimed to move away from the "rooted in the past" outlook that typified British craft. Shirley Craven became the company's Colour and Design Consultant in 1959 and quickly moved to become its art director too.  Shirley was receptive to new ideas and collaboration, loved music (In fact, Shirley would have become a musician if she had not chosen design), and was open to the new movements in art. Under her guidance the company thrived.

Sadly, Hull Traders closed in 1980 but the innovative designs and eye-popping colour of the fabrics they produced are sought-after today. You can see some of those fabrics in this article.

The book "Shirley Craven and Hull Traders" has been added to the studio library. Featuring the revolutionary designs for furniture and fabrics from the start to the end of the company, it is a replete with photographs, anecdotes, history and writings about the company that helped change post-War British design.