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

Designer Desire: Lefor Openo

Lefor Openo artwork mosaic | H is for Home

Welcome to our new blog series, ‘Designer Desire’, where we’ll feature one designer per week whose work we love. We’re kicking off with Lefor Openo who we’ve mentioned once or twice before.

Lefor Openo comprised of two French women, Marie-Claire Lefort and Marie-Francine Oppeneau. They met while studying at Lycée Claude-Bernard Paris, and collaborated from 1955 to 1967. They were primarily poster artists; their designs were used extensively by Loterie Nationale (the national lottery of France). They designed posters for Charles de Gaulle – for the 1958 constitutional referendum and again for his 1965 presidential election campaign. They also produced advertising artwork for other organisations and brands such as Electricité de France, Kodak, Singer Sewing Machines. They designed a poster for the 1959 film Babette s’en va-t-en guerre, (Babette goes to War) starring Brigitte Bardot. Apparently, she is the one upon whom they based most of their ‘models’.

As well as posters, very occasionally you’ll come across postcards and tea towels bearing their designs on Etsy and eBay. We’ve also seen evidence of a doll and a couple of pin dishes from the era and we have a tin in our shop which we believe to be one of their designs – we’ve never seen another!

Marie-Claire Lefort died in 1971 and Marie-Francine Oppeneau is now 81 years old. Once upon a time, there was a basic website with information and images of some of their designs but it seems to have been allowed to expire. If you know (or want to find out) anything more about them and their designs, please leave a comment below.

Marie-Claire Lefort & Marie-Francine Oppeneau of Lefor Openo