Last week, the Victoria & Albert Museum released “Strawberry Thief,” an iPad app based on the textiles of 19th-century British Arts and Crafts movement designer William Morris.
Sophia George, the museum’s first game designer-in-residence, studied one of Morris’s famed patterns, which depicts a bird in search of strawberries among a sea of swirling vines and flowers, during a six-month residency that ended in March. Since then, she has been leading a team that includes two artists, a programmer, and an audio designer, to bring her vision to life.
In the game, the player assumes the role of the bird; by collecting strawberries, the bird is able to draw first the outlines of Morris’s 1883 pattern, then basic colors, and finally richer colors and textures.
Morris, a designer, poet, and architect, fell in love with medieval art and history while studying at Oxford. (Later in life, he even went so far as to decorate his country home in Kent with murals depicting stories by Chaucer and Thomas Malory.) He began experimenting with silk weaving in the 1870s, using organic dyes, and soon made his name selling fabrics and wallpapers to London’s most fashionable homes. His legacy endures: Even Dr. Martens has released a boot showcasing the same “Strawberry Thief” design.