Early 20th C.
Liberty & Co.
In 1875, Liberty & Co.'s first small shop opened on Regent Street in London's emergent West End. It grew into a showcase for cosmopolitan goods, and the company became synonymous with exotic and avant-garde design. In particular, Liberty garments were associated with the Aesthetic Movement.
Liberty also developed a furniture department, supported by its own workshops, which opened in 1880 under the direction of Leonard F. Wyburd. At first Liberty imported goods from countries seen as "exotic" and pre-Industrial, producing handmade, but relatively inexpensive, furniture and artifacts. Lasenby Liberty travelled widely, notably to Japan, to observe their production first hand. Shrewd business instincts drove him to innovate, however, and he had no scruples about modifying designs for the home market, developing hybrid, Anglo-oriental artifacts and other ersatz styles, incorporating Arts & Crafts, "Celtic," "Tudor," Art Nouveau, and oriental elements. He also invested substantially in small companies producing ceramics, metalwork, and jewelry.