Knox was an influential force on the two main Liberty & Co. metalwork ranges, Cymric silver and jewellery and Tudric pewter, which defined the company’s ‘art nouveau’ look, and helped transform the company from an oriental warehouse to cutting edge design retailer. In Italy the company’s name was hijacked and applied to all art nouveau design, as ‘Style Liberty’.
Knox worked alongside the architect M.H. Baillie Scott before moving to London in 1897 where he joined the Silver Studio and began working with Liberty & Co. a relationship that lasted 14 years. His style clearly reflects the various influences of his early career, fusing Baillie Scott, and the simplicity of the German Jugendstil aesthetic, with the Celtic ornamentation of his native Isle of Man, and avoiding the excessive swirls of many Continental European designers working in the art nouveau style.
Liberty & Co. were established in 1875 as an importer and retailer of Oriental goods following the failure of Dresser’s Art Furnishers Alliance, which Arthur Liberty was a share holder and director. The new shop soon branched out to sell its own range of fabrics, clothing and furniture commissioned from leading designers, but usually sold anonymously, marketed only under only the Liberty name. The Liberty name and look was synonymous with the fashion for ‘artistic decoration and furnishing’.