About the Design Collection

The Design Collection is a portfolio of rarely seen
heritage designs held by The National Archives.

An inspirational design tool

Our online subscription service enables you to browse over 1,000 heritage designs, with more being added to the collection on a regular basis:

  • artists can look for inspiration from colours and textures used through the ages
  • fashion designers can create new ranges inspired by, and rooted in heritage
  • interior design brands can see original, bygone styles and give them a contemporary twist for modern homes
  • art colleges can provide their students with access to an accurate record of design and manufacturing history

Filter by pattern, theme, colour and date range to find the designs that are most appealing to you. Save them to your favourites, and download an unlimited number.

By opening up these rarely seen designs, we hope to inspire artists and designers to produce new and exciting works. If you want to directly reproduce an image, it's your responsibility to investigate and gain permission from the copyright owner. See our full terms and conditions for individuals and multi-users.

Designs at The National Archives

From exclusive items for the home to ordinary, everyday objects, The National Archives holds the records of almost three million designs dating from 1839 to 1991.The collection gives an unprecedented insight into different aspects of material culture, and is an outstanding record of the design and manufacturing past of Britain and the Commonwealth.

These designs were registered for copyright under a series of Acts of Parliament from 1839, which were intended to stop widespread piracy of designs. As records of a government department, these designs are now kept at The National Archives.

This unique collection of designs includes the decorative arts - textiles, wallpaper, glass, metalwork, wood and ceramics - clothing, and 'useful' designs, or inventions. Many are preserved in pristine condition, with the colours of wallpapers and textiles as clear and vibrant as they were on the day of registration.

Registers were kept which recorded the registered design number, date of registration, name and address of proprietor (the copyright holder), and sometimes, but not always, a brief description of the object. This can help to establish the provenance of the design.