Remembering designers who thrived during WW2



Abram Games:

Responsible for some of the most iconic Home Front posters of the Second World War, Abram Games had a graphic style that is still resonant today. 1914 – 1996

“I am not an artist. I am a graphic thinker. I am bad at drawing, but what I lack in natural talent I make up for in solid hard work.”

Words Catherine Coyle
Originally published in issue 98

Abram Games working on a sketch in his studio circa 1951
A selection of Games’ 100 war posters
From left: ‘G for Guinness, 1956’ is a firm favourite among fans of the artist; Abram Games working on some preliminary drawings in his studio

Abram Games was 11 when he decided to become a poster artist. His school report had noted that his drawing skills were ‘weak’ but this did not deter him. In 1942 he became the only official War Poster Artist, and six years after this he won a competition to design the emblem for the 1951 Festival of Britain.

For the full story, check out episode 8 of the Homes & Interiors Scotland podcast which focuses on design during WW2.


Bernat Klein:

A European designer, artist and master of colour who made his home in the Scottish Borders. 1922 – 2014

“Bernat Klein continues to inspire, but perhaps his legacy is simply that he brought colour into post-war Britain, transforming its drab hues.”

Photography courtesy of Bernat Klein Trust and Jed Gordon Words Rhona Warwick Paterson
Originally published in issue 102

Bernat Klein (right) and his studio (left) close to High Sunderland which was designed by the architect Peter Womersley in 1972
Klein’s love of colour was not restricted to the textiles he designed for clothing. Colour was a predominate feature in his art too, displayed here in his bright geometric abstract paintings
Left: Klein, described by one critic in the 1960s as “an unusual combination of artist and technician”, was involved in all aspects of the creation of his textiles and was always experimenting with new production methods. Right: In 1972 with three fashion models wearing dresses made from his printed knitted polyester jersey fabrics. Some of the patterns were based on enlarged photographic details of his paintings.

If all art reflects its maker, there is no doubt that the multifarious colours and textures of Bernat Klein’s oeuvre reveal him to be a man of many facets, whose inquisitive creativity and intellect defy categorisation. Known primarily for his vibrant textiles in mohair and tweed, he was also creatively involved in architecture, furniture design and painting.

For the full story, check out episode 8 of the Homes & Interiors Scotland podcast which focuses on design during WW2.



Tibor Reich:

A distinctive eye for colour and a desire to give his textiles three-dimensional texture set this Hungarian-born designer on a unique path to success.1916 – 1996

“He was defiantly avant-garde, always pushing the boundaries.”

Words Catherine Coyle Photography courtesy of Tibor Ltd
Originally published in issue 106

Left: Tibor Reich in front of Clifford Mill, 1950. Ever the artist, in 1946 he moved to Stratford-upon-Avon to be closer to nature. It was here he formed his revolutionary design practice. Right: A Tibor ad roomset in 1958 with Tibor fabrics, rug, and Tigo-Ware pottery
From left: Magic Marker pen drawings, Leeds and Bolton, 1940-45 (for quick designs Tibor used homemade felt-tip pens containing aniline dyes dissolved in methylated spirits, which he had developed in 1942); Flamingo, a screen-printed textile on cotton using the Fotexur process, 1955; Madison Colourblanket, 1957
Tibor Reich House, designed 1956 in Stratford-upon-Avon – the central fireplace (‘the Flaming Onion’) was the room’s focal point

Tibor Reich had an unwavering drive to succeed. Riches and notoriety were of no interest to him. His passion, instead, was his work – the pursuit and development of his craft. He was eager to become an architect and drew prolifically as a child. He was from an affluent Jewish family of industrialists; his father owned a textiles factory while his mother was from a family of successful restauranteurs. Hard graft was in his genes.

For the full story, check out episode 8 of the Homes & Interiors Scotland podcast which focuses on design during WW2.


Ettore Sottsass:

This endlessly inventive Italian designer was also an architect, poet, and photographer. 1917 – 2007

“Karl Lagerfeld was a big fan, decking out his home in the late 1980s in Memphis pieces.”

Words Catherine Coyle Photography courtesy of Studio Ettore Sottsass
Originally published in issue 115


Left: Ettore Sottsass, 1973 Right: The famous Valentine portable typewriter he designed with Perry A. King for Olivetti in 1969
Left: Photograph by Ettore Sottsass, 1974 Right: Sottsass in his 70s
Left: Drawings for the Tahiti and Cavalieri lamps, 1981 Right: The actual Tahiti table lamp

Ettore Sottsass was always one of a kind. All through his life he was labelled ‘designer’, or ‘architect, sometimes ‘artist’ or ‘writer’. He was all of those things – and many more – but at heart he was a consumer of life, a thrill-seeker, a passion-hunter. If ever there was a person who completely embraces the (currently very fashionable) notion of mindfulness, it was Sottsass: his life was lived fully and joyfully and nowhere more so than in his work.

For the full story, check out episode 8 of the Homes & Interiors Scotland podcast which focuses on design during WW2.

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