Designer Desire: William Stobbs

Mosaic of William Stobbs children's book illustrations | H is for Home

Vintage children’s books illustrators are always one of our favourite subjects for Designer Desire. This week, we’ve chosen award-winning illustrator and author, William Stobbs (1914-2000).

Originally from South Shields in Tyne and Wear, he attended Durham School of Art before being taken on as a draughtsman at Rolls-Royce.

Stobbs taught at the London School of Printing and Kindred Trades (now the London College of Communication) prior to becoming head of Maidstone College of Art (now the Kent Institute of Art & Design) where he stayed for 21 years.

In 1955 he illustrated Ronald Welch’s Knight Crusader, which won the Carnegie Medal, “the UK’s oldest and most prestigious book award for children’s writing”. Four years later, he won a double Kate Greenaway Medal for his children’s books illustrations for Kashtanka by Anton Chekhov (see the illustration top-right) and A Bundle of Ballads by Ruth Manning-Sanders.

He returned to one of his life-long favourite subjects – cars – publishing picture books entitled, A Mini called ZAC, A Rolls called ARK and A Car called Beetle (see second illustration from bottom, right).

Most of the books he illustrated are now out-of-print. However, vintage copies can be picked up easily from Abe Books, Amazon, eBay and Etsy.

Today, sadly, William Stobbs is little-known and under-appreciated – we couldn’t even find an image online of what the designer looked like.

Image credits:

Lazy Daisy Jones | Little White Crow | Vintage Children’s Books my Kid Loves

Designer Desire: Vuokko Nurmesniemi

Mosaic of Vuokko Nurmesniemi designs | H is for Home

This is a Designer Desire post for all you vintage fashion fans! Vuokko Nurmesniemi (born 1930) was one of the two main pattern designers at Marimekko during the 1950s. Her striped Jokapoika (top image) was one of the company’s best sellers.

I just love her big, bold op art designs, many of which are in the New York Met’s permanent collection. Those tent coats and dresses are to die for!

I couldn’t find much of it available online. However, a few sellers on Etsy stock vintage Nurmesniemi-designed Marimekko and her own brand Vuokko Oy pieces.

Portrait of Vuokko Nurmesniemicredit

Additional image credits:

Marimekko | Pinterest

Designer Desire: Ken Law

Mosaic of Ken Law artworks | H is for Home

I’ve had a great response from people about my early birthday present, an original painting by Ken Law (1919-1988) entitled, “Oldham Landscape”. I thought I’d look into and share more of his wonderful artworks as this week’s Designer Desire.

For years, there was absolutely no information about Ken on the internet. Then his son John came across an online forum of people all over the world who either appreciated or owned examples of his work. John filled in a few details (one being to confirm that Ken Law the LSO cellist and Ken Law the artist were indeed the same person!). The family still own many of his works and two of the forum members visited Ken’s widow and photographed some of them. These have been shared on the forum.

A dedicated website has been created by Ken’s grandson however, other than some background information, just over half a dozen or so images of his oils and watercolours have been uploaded.

Portrait of Ken Lawcredit

Additional image credits:

20th Century Forum | Deerfieldpb | Flickr | Ken Law

Designer Desire: Owen Davey

Mosaic of Owen Davey illustrations | H is for Home

We often feature a Scandinavian designer whose heyday was the 50s to the 70s in our weekly Designer Desire series. Surprise, surprise – this week we’ve chosen a young, contemporary, award-winning, British illustrator, Owen Davey!

Owen trained at Falmouth University and is currently based in Leicester. He has a long list of prestigious and diverse clients including Facebook, Google, Sony, AirBnB, Transport for London, Lego, The Guardian, New York Times, National Geographic, the BBC, GQ, Stella Artois, EasyJet, Virgin, Jamie Oliver, Microsoft and Unilever.

Owen describes his style as, “Stylised. Friendly. Retro. Colourful. Narrative” and is inspired by, “Life, nature and aesthetics”.

He has designed the graphics for the TwoDots puzzle game and even finds the time to be in a band!

He has work available to buy in his shop. His illustrated children’s books can be found on Amazon.

Have a look at this amazing time-lapse video below of his work process creating his beautiful Dungeness crab.

You can see more of his work on his Instagram feed or you can follow him on Twitter.

Portrait of Owen Daveycredit

Designer Desire: Raija Uosikkinen

Mosaic of Raija Uosikkinen designs | H is for Home

There’s such a goldmine of vintage Scandinavian designers from which to choose, we’ve decided upon yet another this week – Raija Uosikkinen (1923-2004).

She is probably most well-known for her fruity Pomona and folk art Emilia patterns for Arabia, where she worked from 1947 to 1986. She also designed annual Christmas commemorative collectors’ plates for the company between 1978 and 1983.

The Finnish designer’s work is most easy to find on Tradera (the Scandi version of eBay), Etsy and to a lesser extent on eBay.

Portrait of Raija Uosikkinen

Image credits:

Bukowskis | Dishware Heaven | Flickr | Retronomi

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Designer Desire: Ristomatti Ratia

Mosaic of Ristomatti Ratia designs | H is for Home

Last week, we blogged about a couple of vintage Palaset storage boxes we put into our shop. Today, we’re featuring their designer, Ristomatti Ratia.

By all accounts, he has so far led a very colourful life. He’s been married numerous times, had a challenging relationship with his mother and had even appeared on the Finnish version of Dancing with the Stars.

He has, however, found the time to design all manner of products in his 50-year career. From clothing, spectacles, jewellery, glassware, cutlery and bedding to a free-standing fire and even a boat-shaped coffin and urn for ashes!

He’s best known for a couple of his early designs; firstly, his 301 shoulder bag (shown above in green) for his parents’ company, Marimekko. The other is the aforementioned, award-winning Palaset modular storage system – the LP units are especially sought after by vintage vinyl junkies. I discovered today that the ever forward-thinking Sir Terence Conran stocked Palaset in his Habitat shops in the 1970s. The image of the beanbag-seated lady is taken from a vintage Habitat catalogue.

His contemporary designs are readily available from the Finnish Design Shop and the Ratia Shop. His vintage designs pop up from time to time on 1st Dibs, eBay and Etsy.

Ristomatti Ratia has, as one might expect, a beautifully furnished home. You can take a house tour here.

Portrait of Ristomatti Ratia

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Additional image credits:

70 Luvulta | Flickr | Mundadaa | Why not 2nd Cycle

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