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Dress fabric - Afwillite 8.45

Afwillite 8.45

  • Object:

    Dress fabric

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (manufactured)

  • Date:

    1951 (manufactured)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Slade, S. M. (designer)
    British Celanese Limited (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Screen-printed spun rayon

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Council of Industrial Design

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The Festival of Britain held in London in 1951 provided new opportunities for textile design and manufacture. Two very distinct types of pattern emerged at this event: one was inspired by scientific, crystal-structure diagrams drawn to record arrangements of atoms in matter; the other was based on abstract forms and organic shape, the so-called 'Contemporary' style. This design derived from the crystallography model Afwillite 8.45, provided by the crystallographer Dr Helen Megaw, and was made in a limited production in 1951 in four colourways. The pattern was shown in the Regatta Restaurant and Land Travelling Exhibition.

The Festival Pattern Group was the brainchild of Mark Harland Thomas of the Council of Industrial Design. He built on the idea first put forward in 1946 by crystallographer Dr Helen Megaw that the patterns made available by X-ray crystallography were particularly appropriate for textile design because of their repetitive symmetry and natural beauty. In 1949 he brought together the group of manufacturers who produced textiles, china, carpets, linoleum and wallpaper decorated with these patterns for the Festival. The project combined science and design and was perfect for the theme of the festival, which was to be a platform for British achievement in science, technology and the arts.

Physical description

Dress fabric of screen-printed spun rayon. The design is based on a crystal structure diagram of afwillite. Asymmetrical circular shapes in dark red, white, yellow and turquoise.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (manufactured)


1951 (manufactured)


Slade, S. M. (designer)
British Celanese Limited (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Screen-printed spun rayon


Height: 50 cm, Width: 66.5 cm, Width: 26.5 in, Height: 19 in

Object history note

X-ray crystallography involved projecting a narrow beam of X-rays on to crystalline material. Photographs were then taken of the diffracted X-rays, and the resulting lines or spots were used to plot 'maps' indicating the relationships between atoms. For the first time ever it enabled scientist to work out the structure of atoms within molecules. Britain was a world leader in the field of crystallography and during the post war period this was one of the most significant and stimulating branches of science.

Historical context note

Illlustrated in Festival of Britain Souvenir Book, p. 6; British Textiles, p. 55; Skinner's Record, p. 475.

Descriptive line

Dress fabric 'Afwillite 8.45' of screen-printed spun rayon, designed by S. M. Slade for British Celanese Limited, Great Britain, 1951

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Jackson, Lesley. From Atoms to Patterns. Crystal structure designs from the 1951 Festival of Britain, London:Richard Dennis with Wellcome Institute, 2008, p. 54.

Production Note

See Jackson, p. 54.

Attribution note: Limited production in 1951; four different colourways made.




Screen printing


Textiles; Clothing


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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