Designer Desire: René Gruau

Mosaic of René Gruau illustrations | H is for Home

Count Renato Zavagli-Riccardelli, better known as René Gruau (1909-2004), was born in Rimini, Italy. He was probably the most well known fashion illustrator of his time – at least, his works are. Prolific in his output during his lengthy career, his work graced the covers and pages of fashion magazines such as Marie-Claire, Elle, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar. He produced illustrations for a string of haute couture fashion houses; most famously Dior, but also Givenchy, Lanvin, Balmain, Balenciaga, Elsa Schiaparelli and Elizabeth Arden. He also designed advertising posters and other material for brands such as Air France, Martini, Cinzano, Du Maurier, Rodier, Blizzand and Fellini’s film, La Dolce Vita.

His work is widely available online, from original artwork and prints on Artnet and 1st Dibs to reproduction items on eBay and Etsy. A handful of books have been published about the man and his designs – available on Amazon.

Portrait of René Gruau

Additional image credits:

Christies | Gruau Collection

Designer Desire: Pepa Reverter

Mosaic of Pepa Reverter designs | H is for Home

It was while researching another designer for our Designer Desire series that I stumbled across the work of Pepa Reverter. She’s a ceramic and plastics designer, collectable toy designer, furniture designer, gallery curator and illustrator (illustrating editorial pieces for the International Herald Tribune – now the New York Times International Edition).

Born in 1969 in Alcazar, Spain, Reverter is now based in Barcelona, the city where she obtained her degree and masters. Designed in 2012, her most well-known work – The Sisters Collection – comprises a series of sculptural vases named Louise, Frida, Sofia, Helen and Clara. They are manufactured by Bosa in Italy. Between 35 & 40cm tall, they are “A collection of vases that pays tribute to women of all cultures and all times”. They are available in plain white glaze or hand-decorated in various metallic or coloured designs. Many of them are available at the moment on 1st Dibs, Mohd, and B3 eshop. They retail for around £250 to £800 each depending on sister and decoration.

My work represents ingenuity, joy and enthusiasm, all those qualities that children have and that when we are older, we easily lose ourselves through the obstacles and challenges that make our lives.

Pepa Reverter portraitcredit

Additional image credits:

BD Barcelona | Casa Camper | Rotocasted

Designer Desire: Wolf Karnagel

Mosaic of Wolf Karnagel designs | H is for Home

The most well-known designs by Wolf Karnagel (b. 1940) are ones he produced for German companies, Lufthansa and Rosenthal.

In the 1980s, he designed around 120 food service items for the airline. From cutlery, cups & saucers, tea & coffee services, drinking glasses, condiment sachets and napkins to the trays it was all served upon.

Latterly, he has produced award-winning designs for KPM Berlin and Kahla. Functional and tactile, his designs are influenced by Walter Gropius and the Bauhaus movement.

His work is regularly available on Etsy and eBay.

Wolf Karnagelcredit

Designer Desire: Jan Pieńkowski

Mosaic of Jan Pieńkowski artwork | H is for Home

Having not grown up in the UK, Jan Pieńkowski unfortunately passed me by until recently. Luckily, I’ve discovered his wonderful, award-winning illustrations as an adult.

Today’s kids will know him as the co-creator (with Helen Nicoll) of Meg and Mog. People of my age, will know his earlier graphic work from his time working on the BBC’s Watch children’s programme in the early 70s – where he first met Nicoll.

We just have to share the the Jessie Gertrude Townsend’s limerick that accompanied his illustration in their Annie, Bridget and Charlie collaboration… you’ll know why!

H is for Horrid young Hannah,
Who has the most shocking bad manner.
She went out to dine
With a party of nine
And she ate every single banana.

His illustrated children’s books (many of which are still in publication) are readily available on WHSmith, Amazon, eBay and Etsy.

Click here to see some more of our Designer Desire series.

Jan Pieńkowskicredit

Designer Desire: Mary Blair

Mosaic of Mary Blair artworks | H is for Home

If you were a child of the 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond, the illustrations of Mary Blair will be really familiar to you. She was responsible for the concept artwork on many Walt Disney films. Bambi? Cinderella? Alice in Wonderland? Peter Pan? That was her!

She designed a breathtaking, multi-storey mural inside Disney’s Contemporary Resort which opened in 1971 (see the top right image in our collage and the film of its making at the bottom of this post). It’s 90′ tall and consists of 18 thousand hand-painted tiles!

The styling and colouring of the original it’s a small world installation is also her work. It began life as part of the 1964 New York World’s Fair’s UNICEF pavilion thereafter moving to Florida’s Walt Disney World. It has since been followed by later versions in Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland.

She was one of the main illustrators on the Little Golden Books series of children’s books (Another Disney project). Her output can be found in I Can Fly, Little Verses and Baby’s House.

Mary Blair also designed advertising and, on occasion, packaging for Meadow Gold milk, cheese and ice cream, Blue Bell children’s clothing, E-Z underwear, Hanes Underwear, Pall Mall cigarettes, Dutch Boy Paints and Baker’s instant chocolate flavor mix.

You can find numerous books illustrated by Blair, as well as books about her and her work on Amazon.

Check out some of our other past Designer Desire members here!

Mary Blair and Walt Disney

Image credits:

Flickr | Pinterest


Ceramic Mural from Animation Scoop on Vimeo.

Designer Desire: Alan Wallwork

Mosaic of Alan Wallwork studio pottery | H is for Home

Last week, we wrote about a vintage Bernard Rooke pottery floor lamp that we acquired recently. We also mentioned that he, at one time, shared a studio in Forest Hill and then Greenwich, London with fellow potter and Goldsmiths graduate, Alan Wallwork.

Wallwork (born 1931) is best known for his beautiful, often colourful, glazed tiles that adorn tabletops, cheeseboards, trivets etc. He also produces the most sensuous, sculptural studio pottery pieces. Often inspired by nature, these textural works resemble acorns, seed pods, eggs, slices of fruit, shells and fossils.

His art pottery pieces can often be found for sale at auction houses all around the country. The tiled items are very affordable and are always available on eBay and Etsy.

Alan Wallwork at work in his studiocredit

Additional imaged credits:

1stDibs | Invaluable