Noel Lyons (c.1936-1995) was an Australian textile and wall coverings designer who was prominent particularly in Australia / NZ from the 1970s-1990’s. 

Noel Lyons portrait

Early Career

Noel Lyons’ career in the textile industry began with a design / sales position with Bebarfields, who was a strong retailer in furnishing and apparel at that time. He then progressed to a position with AE Hoad. Here Noel continued his interest in design and developed a desire to create designs for the furnishings market.

In the late 60’s he enrolled in a silk-screen printing course at East Sydney Tech. His desire to learn and perfect the art was such that he even set up a printing table in his home. This allowed him to further explore and experiment with the artform.

By 1970 he had joined the Society of Interior Designers of Australia and had set up his own print studio in an old dance hall in Ashfield. From here he produced pattern books of his hand screen-printed designs for both wallpapers and fabrics. As a result he was able to start introducing his designs to interior designers and decorators across the country.

The Designer’s Studio

Noel did not create a design studio that employed students and artists. In other words, he drew each and every design himself. He was involved in the whole process from design through to printing, however his love and passion stayed very much in the creation of new designs.

He produced the patterns that he would want for himself. A main source of inspiration came from the flora found in many Aussie backyards, including his own.

One of his earliest designs, created c.1970, was the iconic Strelitzia. It quickly become one of his most popular designs for both wallpapers and furnishing textiles. The design features stylised yet instantly recognisable floral motifs and a distinctive double trellis.

Image Right: Signature Prints created this modern reproduction of an original Noel Lyons ‘Strelitzia’ wallpaper for a client in 2019. The colourway was matched to the exact wallpaper that she grew up with in her childhood home!

Strelitzia wallpaper by Noel Lyons
Noel Lyons original fabrics

Noel Lyons and Signature Handprints

In the late 70’s he moved his studio to Waterloo and contracted out his printing to Signature Handprints, then based in Hornsby Heights. There, Noel worked with owner and fellow designer Donald Bruce Clark to take his designs from a raw state and on to wooden silk screens in readiness for printing. Over time these skills flourished and the printed offerings became both prolific and diverse. One example of this was the eventual introduction of more multi-coloured designs into Noel’s repertoire.

Noel believed that “Australians decorate for a perpetual summer, and do not favour sombre colours”. As a result his colour palettes were fresh and bright, giving life to the local flora that featured so prevalently in his work. He avoided newly developing polyester textiles in favour of cottons and natural fibres, as these would carry his designs in a more ‘natural’ way. Many metres of natural calico were printed at Signature Handprints over the years and sold throughout Australia. 

Unfortunately the majority of Noel’s design archive was destroyed in a fire in his Waterloo studio in the 1980’s. Approximately 35 of these designs survived, having been stored off-site by Signature Handprints (now Signature Prints). Today these are all that remain of this designer’s iconic work.

Signature Prints is proud to now be able to help bring past, hand drawn perfection to a new and vigorous international marketplace.

The Noel Lyons Textile Collection by Signature Prints is available now. View the collection and shop available designs on fabric here.

Noel Lyons designs will also soon be available as Wallpaper and Limited Edition Art. Contact our team for more information on available options.

Strelitzia handprinted fabric