Design Inspiration: The Grey Microcheck Sock by Fortis Green

‘I pick up a book. I lay it down. I look out a window. I stare at a blank wall, I move about. I go to my desk and gaze at a blank piece of paper. I write on it the names of the product. I then paint it in some kind of lettering. I make it larger – smaller – slanting - heavy – light. I make drawings of the object – in outline, with shadow and colour, large and then small – within the dimensions I have now set myself.’

 - Edward McKnight Kauffer 1938


Fortis Green’s micro check patterned dress sock in grey is inspired by the art deco colour palette of Edward McKnight Kauffer’s 1931 travel poster, ‘Play between 6 and 12, the brightest hours’.

Published by the London Underground Electric Railways, Kauffer’s design illustrates early examples of airbrushing and photomontage, highlighting the artist’s incorporation of constructivism and surrealist techniques. In an exhibition at the Royal Society of Arts in 1938, Kauffer stated that his designs were developed for individual interpretation rather than to be accepted at face value. With the artist describing in detail his struggle to balance creativity with the commercial needs of his clients. 

Known as the Picasso of advertising design, Edward McKnight Kauffer was born in Montana in 1890. After studying painting at San Francisco’s Mark Hopkins Institute, the American artist moved to Europe, traveling through Paris and Munich before settling in Britain in 1914. Finding quick success in the United Kingdom, Kauffer began designing posters for companies such as Shell, The Daily Herald, and The London Underground Electric Railways.

He would produce an astounding 140 posters for the London Transport system over his lifetime.


Edward Kauffer found inspiration in trips to the theatre, French illustration, painting and poster design. A multi-talented artist, Kauffer was responsible for the interior design, logo, luggage label and brochure for the Orient Lines ocean liner. He also produced sets for the London Theatre, with the theatre’s influence prominent in his work for London Transport at the time. Kauffer’s use of vibrant colour and powerful pictorial scenes were reminiscent of his theatrical backdrops, bringing a taste of the stage to the streets of London.

With the onset of WWII, Edward Kauffer returned to America, where he was commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art, Red Cross and the War Effort, as well as producing a number of book and magazine covers. He was awarded distinctive merit from the Art Directors Guild of New York and became an Honorary Advisor to the Department of Public Information of the United Nations in 1947.

Continuing to work up until his death in 1954, Edward Kauffer’s creative legacy remains the ability to adopt and adapt styles from a number of different artists and art movements. Restructuring them through his own work, Kauffer allowed the greater public to unconsciously view Modern Art.

The micro check patterned dress sock by Fortis Green can be purchased through our online store.