Among the seven designers inducted into the Design Institute of Australia’s Hall of Fame on June 15, 2018, was a posthumous inductee—furniture, interior, industrial and exhibition designer Lester “Bun” Bunbury. Bun is recognised as a pioneer and leader in establishing Mid-Century Modern design locally, but there is not much information about him. His practice covered not only furniture and exhibitions but products and corporate branding as well. Aside from private practice, he passed on his knowledge by teaching and writing on design. He was passionate about design even in personal life. His contributions to design continue to be appreciated today.
Wedgwood is porcelain, fine China, and Magnificence Company established by Josiah Wedgwood. In 1765, Wedgwood came up with a new type of creamware, which overwhelmed the then British consort who gave formal authorisation to name it Queen’s Ware. This new product sold very well all over Europe. Wedgwood developed some other industrial innovations for his company. The Jasperware, made to look like prehistoric cameo glass, was the best-known product of Wedgwood, which is now a museum piece. The designs were extremely influenced by the prehistoric cultures being rediscovered and studied at that time to please the enormous business demand. Wedgwood has honoured many individuals from America and corporations also, both in the past and in recent times.
Gordon Arthur Andrews is known as one of Australia’s greatest designers. His first inspiration was his father who was also an inventor and designer. The early 1960s saw a lot of Gordon’s interior design but the year 1963 was perhaps one of the most notable for him. It was in this year that the Advisory Committee chose Andrews’s designs for Australia’s new banknotes. He designed furniture as well. The designer believed that furniture should not only be aesthetically pleasing, but also comfortable and efficient. Gordon’s furniture designs are sought-after and even copied by others. Andrews is seen by some as a “cultural hero” deserving of a place with those represented in the banknotes he had designed.
Royal Worcester has always been known for the very high quality of the artists’ painting. Perhaps the best known are the members of the Stinton family. They started working at the Grainger factory before it came under the auspices of the Royal Worcester in 1905. Throughout the years of their association with the Worcester Pottery, they have produced fine artwork, particularly in each of their chosen specialities. While the theme of cattle, game birds and scenic castles runs through the Stinton dynastic artwork, each has its own individuality. Some of the colouring is quite ethereal and very lovely to see. The Stinton family has made a huge contribution to the Royal Worcester Porcelain factories work.
From Thomas Edison’s first attempt to create a music recording and playing device in 1877 to Alexander Graham Bell’s graphophone, inventors had been trying to find an effective way to record sound. Fortunately, Emile Berliner invented the first-ever sound recorder, which was called the gramophone. The gramophone proved to be more practical than its earlier counterparts and made it possible to mass-produce records. Berliner then formed the Gramophone Company to sell and distribute his products worldwide. Only a few of these once popular gramophones are in existence now, so they are a good investment. The invention of the gramophone is a testament to how science can do great wonders for the arts and vice-versa.
George White studied art in London before becoming the chief specialist figure painter on vases, plates, cups and saucers at Doulton’s Burslem Studio. He painted figures, usually maidens in romantic scenes and wearing diaphanous garments. He uses soft and delicate colours and was able to depict the translucent quality of these robes in realistic and very lovely detail. He also decorated Luscian ware, one of Charles Noke’s many specialties. It is an enamelled pottery and tended to be decorated in the Art Nouveau style from around 1900. George’s vases and plates must have taken hours of painstaking work to decorate, and together with the rarity value of these finest pieces, it’s no wonder they are much sought after now.
English silver has, for centuries, been accepted as the finest in the world. This is due to the unique system of Hallmarks, the zeal and zealous traditions of the Guild of English Goldsmiths. The birth of the industrial revolution and the introduction of tea as a national drink in the 18th century provided wealth for the common person. They could buy silver and the crafting of silver became a major art form. It must be noted that most English Silversmiths concentrated on good quality and design, instead of price. The high quality is the reason why English silver has lasted so long and will continue to be enjoyed by many future generations.
When James Hadley started his apprenticeship, Royal Worcester was still known as Kerr and Binns of Worcester. Such was his skill that by 1870, he became the chief designer in the factory. John Sandon, a well-respected British authority on glass and ceramics, described James Hadley as “probably the finest English modeller of all time”. He was said to be able to work in any style or form but is best known for his decorative figures. Perhaps one of his most famous models was the “Aesthetic Teapot”. In 1875, he left the Worcester factory and set up his own. James Hadley had a somewhat turbulent career. Yet, he left some of the finest models ever produced.
Marc Newson may well be one of the most influential and groundbreaking designers of the present generation. He has delved into aircraft design, product design, furniture design, and even clothing and jewellery. He is known for collaborating with a number of big corporations including Apple, Montblanc, Nike and Louis Vuitton to name a few. Newson has quite a number of solo exhibitions under his belt including his very first one in 1986 where he unveiled his Lockheed Lounge chair. He is known for smooth geometric lines with an absence of sharp edges. As he is still quite young and active, we can only speculate as to how impactful his legacy would be.
William Hawkins started working at the Royal Worcester when he was 16 years old. Like the other Royal Worcester artists, William had his own speciality. In his case, it was portraits, figures and still life work. Many important changes took place during the times William worked at the Worcester factory. These years also saw many changes in the British way of life. The Royal Worcester Company has been renowned for the skill of its artists and none were more respected than William Hawkins. He worked during a time of great change, and his unique, wonderfully decorated items are a collector’s dream, though not easy to find now.
Fred Ward was considered a pioneer by fellow designers. He was creating furniture that took ergonomics into consideration way before it became a fad. He demonstrated the beauty of unstained native Australian timber when others were imitating the look of European wood. His designs have been described as having a simple beauty, pleasing to look at yet streamlined and functional, which seemed to have reflected him. After the war, Fred applied his innovative mind to meeting the needs of the era. Australians could have affordable yet stylish furniture. Two decades after Ward’s death, collectors and antique lovers are rediscovering his work.
Carlton Ware was a pottery manufacturing company that manufactured hand-painted household pottery in lofty Art Deco styles throughout the 1920s and 1930s. It produced promotional items for Guinness. Carlton Ware focused on the ornamental giftware end of the household pottery market for the major part of its career. As part of innovation and development, the company introduced new production methods where the decal and hand-painting work was incorporated into high-glaze substrates in the 1920s. The necessity to pass on increasing labour and fuel costs critically affected the aptitude of Carlton Ware to keep manufacturing sophisticated hand-painted items. It was on this note that the company then focused more on novelty items until its downfall.
Albert Tucker was interested in art from a very young age. He had a premonition then that he would become an artist. But to help supplement the family income, he left school and worked as a house painter, where he developed lead poisoning. Albert turned towards Communism when he worked for a commercial artist; he felt exploited. Albert then left the company, and with a group of like-minded artists, formed The Angry Penguins. During and after World War II, casualties from both sides of the war had a traumatic effect on him. The same can be said of the deaths of those he knew as he made portraits of them.
The telephone evolution has come a very long way through history and is probably yet evolving. From the need of communication to having aesthetically pleasing devices, the various designs of telephones emerged to fit the need of the time. Antique Telephones can be said to have become a major collectable at least 80 years after they started being produced and exhibited, meaning that the Candlestick Telephones were the first set of Antique Telephones. Although, even relatively newer designs are considered as collectables because of their archaic and unique designs. Special designs that were beautifully crafted in the past eras, and later became obsolete, were kept and preserved as memoirs by individuals and museums.
Bronze Antiques thrive for their durability, and are highly priced and valued collectables that are associated with prestige. Bronze has been used for centuries to make vital basic implements, platters, parts of furniture, figurines, axes, coins and medals, musical instruments, plaques, and other artefacts. At some point in history, bronze figurines were melted and used to make ammunition and weapons for war. Bronze being tougher than other formerly used materials like copper and stone was a better choice for sculptors, builders, armour makers and bronze smiths. Bronze Antiques have been collectables of high value. Having Bronze Antiques is a thing of pride even for elites and royals.
Leonard Lumsden Grimwade and his elder brother, Sidney Richard Grimwade founded a company that produced an English brand of earthenware and fine bone china tableware, later known as Royal Winton. The natural talent the two brothers had shown for pottery led to the start of the business. Their Chintz pattern designs, which made the company very successful, first appeared in 1928. Over their decades of success, Royal Winton had produced over 60 Chintz patterns while exporting to the USA and most Commonwealth nations. Despite all changes the company had undergone, they remained steadfast to beauty, quality and design which attracted buyers from around the world.
Rugs are a thing of beauty, especially the nicely coloured and patterned rugs. They can be used as pieces of furniture or ornaments. However, in past times, they were quite functional to the people of the Asian regions. These rugs were known with the nomads of Southern Asia who made rugs just for their own use for comfort and for warmth from the wool of their herds. Eventually, from the 15th century when designs changed, rug making became commercial and ways of production changed. Rugs have become antiques and they are valued for their intricacies. Older pieces can still be found in museums today.
Bow porcelain factory was an English soft-paste porcelain factory founded by Thomas Frye. He was a talented Irish engraver alongside his partner, Edward Heylyn. Bow factory rivalled the Chelsea porcelain factory, the two of which were the first in England. Bow made some quality cheaper sprigged tableware in white. Imitating imported Chinese wares, the tableware came in blue and white porcelain with floral underglaze decoration. Just like other factories around the globe, the Kakiemon style of the Japanese export porcelain was also trending at Bow. While some Bow figures imitated Chelsea models, many more imitated Meissen. Following the Bow factory’s rapid expansion, they had become the largest English factory of its time.