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.
Additional image credits:
Christies | Gruau Collection
Alan Fletcher (1931-2006) was one of the true giants of 20th century graphic design. He is the legend that designed the logos of news agency, Reuters and the V&A museum.
He designed book & magazine covers and illustrations for publishers such as Penguin, Time, Life and Fortune. He designed advertising material for brands such as Pirelli, Olivetti and Cunard. He even designed the cover artwork for Pulp’s 2001 album, We Love Life.
Fletcher was one of the five original founders of Pentagram, today the world’s largest independent design consultancy. He was an art college contemporary of, amongst others, David Gentleman, Terence Conran, Peter Blake and Peter Firmin.
There are examples of his Mebel clam ashtrays, books, postcards and limited-edition prints available on eBay and Etsy.
One of the most well-known Hervé Morvan (1917-1980) works is probably the design he produced in 1956 for Banania – a French chocolate drink company.
He designed posters and other advertising materials for lots of other well known brands including Air France, Perrier, Evian, Gitanes and Bally.
Between the 1930s and 1950s, he designed over 150 film posters and also illustrated a number of LP covers and the Printemps du Monde series of children’s books by Jean des Vallières.
His original posters fetch good prices and can sometimes be found on eBay or specialist outlets such as Vintage Posters
There’s a book of around 280 of his works which is available on Amazon.
Image credits: Invaluable
Erik Bruun is a Finnish graphic designer probably best known outside of Finland for his Hartwall Jaffa orange drink ads and Finnair travel posters.
However, it is other designs altogether for which he is most famous in his home country. In 1986, he produced the designs for the current Finnish Markka banknotes. He also designed a 2011 Sampo Bank payment card in collaboration with the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation.
He went to the Central School of Industrial Design in Helsinki where some of his tutors included Kaj Franck and Tapio Wirkkala.
In an interview with Mr Wolf Magazine, he said he was given advice by the latter:
One should be passionate and inspired when starting a job. If you are not, then don’t start. Without passion, nothing exceptional is born.
You can purchase reprints of many of his vintage designs on his website.
Here he is in a short film, putting the finishing touches on one of his Jaffa artworks…
Flickr | Pinterest
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.
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
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.