Designer Desire: Eric Fraser

Mosaic of Eric Fraser illustrations | H is for Home

Eric Fraser (1902-1983) was one of the leading lights of 20th century book & magazine illustration and poster design.

He was commissioned to produce illustrations by a range of magazines including Punch, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Pall Mall and the Radio Times. He designed book covers and page illustrations for, amongst others, Collins, Cassell, Everyman, The Scientific Book Club and the Folio Society. He also designed posters (and stamps) for the Post Office; publicity material for the London Underground and in 1931, he created ‘Mr Therm’ for the Gas Light & Coke Company (the pre-cursor to British Gas).

There are a a couple of interesting-looking books about the man and his work; The Graphic Works of Eric Fraser by Alex Davies (1974) and Eric Fraser: Designer and Illustrator by Sylvia Backemeyer (1998). There’s also an exhibition catalogue – covering the entirety of his career – that you can view online here.

For the life of me I couldn’t find a single photo of the man – just this (small) self-portrait he did in 1949.

Self-portrait by Eric Frasercredit

Additional image credits:

Chris Beetles Gallery

Designer Desire: Graziela Preiser

Mosaic of Graziela Preiser designs

I’ve often talked about wishing that designers that make bright, fun, fashionable clothes for kids would do it for grown ups too. Well, Graziela Preiser does just that!

I first happened across her name last week when I was looking into ceramic designers that worked for Thomas and Rosenthal. She produced the Brigitte Extra Modell children’s range under the former’s brand name in the 1970s.

With the surge in popularity in vintage design, her London-based Art Director daughter, Nina Nägel encouraged her to reissue her back catalogue and in 2008, mother & daughter launched byGraziela.

Portrait of Graziela Preisercredit

Additional images:

byGraziela

Designer Desire: Abner Graboff

Mosaic of Abner Graboff illustrations | H is for Home

We’re signed up to the 365 Poster Blog rss feed and last week they wrote an eye-catching post about Abner Graboff, a children’s book and LP illustrator. We decided that we had to investigate his work further as we’d never heard of him or seen his work.

There aren’t that many websites on the internet that have information about him. However, the one person that does is someone we’ve been mutually following for years on different social streams – illustrator & animator, Ward Jenkins. He too came across some designs by Abner Graboff and proceeded to find out more. In 2009, he managed to track down Graboff’s son, Jon and interviewed him. Go visit, there’s lots of primary material and many more images.

Seeing as he’s American, vintage books that he illustrated are mostly available on the USA Amazon website.

Portrait of Abner Graboffcredit

Additional image credits:

Abe Books

Designer Desire: Enzo Mari

Mosaic of Enzo Mari designs | H is for Home

Enzo Mari is an Italian product designer who is, in our opinion, under-valued and -appreciated. He’s a life-long communist and infamous firebrand known for his staunch views on design and life in general. “Design is dead” and “form is everything” are statements made during his regular outbursts.

He states that during his design process he’s more interested in pleasing the factory worker than the consumer. Evidence of this can be seen in his 1973 Proposta per un’autoprogettazione – a manual for creating a collection of basic, DIY furniture simply using plain planks of wood and nails.

He’s produced designs for brands such as Driade, Poltronova, Alessi, KPM Berlin and, most famously, Danese Milano. It was only when researching Mari that I discovered he designed the ‘Mama’ range for Le Creuset in 1972.

Many of his designs are still in production and are available from Houzz and Made in Design, Vintage and discontinued examples are for sale at Connox, Ebay, Etsy and Pomono.

Portrait of Enzo Maricredit

Additional image credits:

1st Dibs

Designer Desire: Sheila Bownas

Mosaic of Sheila Bownas textile designs | H is for Home

What a coincidence that, just a week after our trip to the Yorkshire Dales, we’re featuring one of its local creatives.

Sheila Bownas (1925-2007) was a fine artist and surface pattern designer from the village of Linton in Craven near Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales. In 1946, she won a scholarship to London’s Slade School of Fine Art where she won further awards which included a year’s extension to study History of Art in Florence. She freelanced as a textile and wallpaper designer for companies such as Liberty and Co., Marks and Spencer and Laura Ashley. She also worked for the Natural History Museum in the 1960s, creating botanical studies. She returned to Linton in the 1970s, where she settled unobtrusively for the rest of her life. She was the only child of the village shopkeepers, she never married nor had children of her own.

Some of Sheila Bownas’ design archive was rediscovered by Chelsea Cefai, an art gallery professional, when it came up for sale at an auction house in Ilkley in 2008. Cefai purchased some 210 of her original textile pattern prints and slowly set about researching the designer and celebrating her designs.

Bonas was indefatigable in her efforts to secure salaried employment. She apparently applied for around jobs in the 1950s and 60s. In 1959 in yet another rejection letter, this time from Crown Wallpaper, Bonas was told:

Thank you for your letter enclosing your design… I have decided to retain this design so would you please let us have your invoice? With reference to your desire to obtain a position in our studio, the Director feels that should an appointment be made at all, a male designer would be preferable…

Last summer, a retrospective of her work was shown at Rugby Art Gallery & Museum and is currently showing at Harrogate’s Mercer Art Gallery until 7th January 2018. If you’re unable to make it, a catalogue of the exhibition is available.

Cefai has set about collaborating with artists & designers reintroducing Bonas’ work in limited-edition prints, furniture, ceramics and other homewares.

In an interview with the Yorkshire Post, Cefai shared:

It’s been hard work and there have been times when I felt like giving up but then I feel like it’s something I have to do. I love her work and it saddens me to think that an artist with such wonderful talent could so easily slip through the net of recognition That’s what drives me. Sheila Bownas is not just a number in a file now, she’s a name in the limelight.

Have a look at the Sheila Bownas website for many more of her wonderful designs.

Portrait of Sheila Bownascredit

Additional image credits:

The Guardian | The Northern Echo

Husman’s finds a home!

Vintage Husman's Potato Chips tin | H is for Home

We bought this extra large Husman’s potato chips tin at Thursday’s flea market. It’s made the long journey from Cincinnati, Ohio to Todmorden, West Yorkshire!

Vintage Husman's Potato Chips tin | H is for Home

The fabulous colours caught our eye from a long way off.

Potato Chip Institute seal on a vintage Husman's Potato Chip tin | H is for Home

As we got closer, we realised that it was a vintage tin with fabulous lettering and chirpy chip boy mascot! We reckon that it dates from the late 1960s era.

Cartoon image of a boy on a vintage Husman's Potato Chip tin | H is for Home

We love these branded wooden crates and tins. They’re very attractive and make for great up-cycled storage. And they also work really well as bedside or side tables.

Vintage Husman's Potato Chips tin being used as a side table | H is for Home

It’s perfect sitting alongside a favourite chair – a place for books, reading glasses, a vase of flowers, glass of wine or hot cuppa. We’ve become very fond of it in a short space of time. We don’t know how it got to our little Pennine town from Cincinatti, but we’re glad it did!