Designer Desire: David Gentleman

Mosaic of David Gentleman designs | H is for Home

We watched a fantastic programme on television last week, all about the history of the postage stamp and stamp collecting. It was through this that I was reintroduced to the designs of David Gentleman. I say reintroduced because I had many of his designs stuck in my stamp album way back in the 1970s.

Now that the internet has been invented, it has been much quicker and easier for me to go in search of more examples of his wonderful work. Between 1962 & 2000, he designed 103 different stamps for the Post Office – for a long time, his was the most prolific output for them. He designed posters for London Transport, the National Trust, Imperial War Museum and the Public Records Office. He also designed book covers & illustrations for publishers including Penguin and Faber as well as for his own travel books.

Portrait of David Gentlemancredit

Between his postage stamp output and his 100-metre long mural on the Northern Line platform of Charing Cross Underground Station – David Gentleman is probably one of the most widely viewed designers in the world! You can find a more extensive study and interview of the designer here.

Additional image credits:

Postal Museum | Tate

Designer Desire: Celestino Piatti

Mosaic of Celestino Piatti designs | H is for Home

We’ve long had a soft spot for the illustrations of Celestino Piatti (1922-2007). He was a Swiss designer best known for his children’s book illustrations and poster and postage stamp designs.

For years, we’ve been hoping to happen across a pristine 1st edition 1965 copy of his Animal ABC in a charity shop somewhere. It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen any time soon – thankfully, you can get new copies online.

Celestino Piatti

Much of his work has distinctive thick, rough, black outlines with bright ‘colouring in’ – almost child-like but incredibly beautiful. He had a few motifs which he kept returning to again & again; owls, the sun with a face and cockerels.

Additional image credits

Artnet | Invaluable | Pinterest | Poster Gallery

Designer Desire: Al & Lena Eklund

Mosaic of Al & Lena Eklund designs | H is for Home

Al & Lena Eklund are Swedish product designers. Much of their work has a Pop Art feel with it’s bold patterns and bright, contrasting colours. Their designs can be found on lots of different homewares such as trays and coasters, thermometers, oven gloves, egg cosies and storage tins.

Information about the couple was more or less non-existent until in 2012, when a Swedish blogger by the name of Helena Viale seized the initiative and went hunting for some primary research material – she wrote Al a letter!

Al & Lena Eklund
Al & Lena Eklund

Apparently, they met at Beckmans College of Design (which Lens’a mother, Göta Trägårdh, co-founded) and soon after leaving began designing textitles for STOBO – Al’s Ornito is featured in our mosaic above. The couple are much more well known however, for their designs on paper, metal and plastic which they produced in collaboration with Laurids Lønborg (known as ‘Sunny’ to his friends). The email reply went on to say that Lønborg was less artistic than the Eklunds, but was an astute businessman and negotiator with suppliers and distributors.

Lønborg also worked with Gunnar Flørning on the wooden figures of animals… but enough about him, this post is about the Eklunds – perhaps he’ll be the subject of another of our Designer Desire posts!

The Eklunds emigrated to New York for a time in the 1970s where they worked on textile and wallpaper designs. Lena passed away in 2007 after a short illness at the age of 72.

Additional image credits:

Etsy | Flickr



Designer Desire: Vera Neumann

Vintage Vera Neumann mosaic | H is for Home

Vera Neumann was an American graphic designer best known for her bold, bright, beautiful silk scarves stamped with her little ladybug symbol.

After her death in 1993, the rights for her work were sold and leased to various organisations who reproduced her designs on clothing and homewares. The most recent I could find was a line of scarves by Target in 1993.

Black & white portrait of Vera Neumann

There’s a lovely looking book all about her work that I wouldn’t mind getting hold of – it’s entitled Vera: The Art and Life of an Icon.

Although there’s a lot of her work still on the market, alas, it’s mostly located in the USA. However, the prices start at such a reasonable level and a scarf is so light that postage costs shouldn’t be exorbitant.

Image credits:

Etsy | 1st Dibs | Replacements | eBay

Designer Desire: Alain Grée

mosaic of Alain Grée illustrations | H is for Home

In this week’s Designer Desire, we’d like to introduce you to Alain Grée (if you’ve not heard of him already, that is). Eighty years old this year (2016), Grée is an illustrator, mainly known for his children’s books and board games.

Grée is an enthusiastic sailor – he’s crossed the Atlantic on his own ships – which can be seen in his very detailed educational books about ships, boats, the sea and sea creatures.

Luckily, Grée has had a very prolific output; his books (over 300) have been produced in large numbers and in 25 different languages. This means you can find examples of his work easily from outlets such as Etsy and Amazon.

His work is still being produced by RicoBel based in Ghent, Belgium who own the rights to his works. Button Books, based in the UK, stock a large stock of his early-years books, activity sets and flash cards.

Here’s a short film of the designer himself talking about how he created his books.

Image credits

Alain Grée | Sam Smyth | Flickr | Pinterest

Designer Desire: Daphne Padden

Mosaic of vintage Daphne Padden designs

This week, we’re featuring the wonderful graphic designs of Daphne Padden (1925-2010) in our Designer Desire series.

‘Mr & Mrs Crownfolio’ have been writing about Daphne on their Vintage Poster Blog for almost 2 decades and it’s thanks in the main to them that something is actually known of her. The vast majority of the images in our mosaic have been borrowed from them. She’s highly underrated in their, and our, opinion!

Portrait of Daphne Padden painted by her father, Percy Padden
Portrait of Daphne Padden painted by her father, Percy Padden

She has produced work for the likes of The Post Office Savings Bank, P & O, British Railways, BEA, ROSPA and Unilever.

Her designs can be found on travel posters, food packaging and restaurant menus. We’re surprised that she never illustrated children’s books, her style is perfectly suited for that medium.

We’re lucky enough to have this single item of hers in our possession – a bright & bold poster produced for The Post Office Savings Bank advertising their investment accounts.

Vintage Daphne Padden poster for the Post Office Savings Bank | H is for Home

An archive of her work is held at my alma mater, The University of Brighton although, to date, none of it seems to have been uploaded to their website. Others can be found in the archives of some of the companies she worked for including The Postal Museum and The Marks and Spencer Company Archive.

You can often find a handful of Daphne Padden’s vintage works on eBay. If you get out-bid, quite a few places are currently reproducing some of her designs including Beast in Show, To Dry For, All Posters and Art.com.

If you have any information or examples of her work, please share – we’d love to hear from you.

Image credits

Vintage Poster Blog | Christies