An ode to 70s designers Fred Press, American artist Lionel Suttie, Australian industrial designer
Fred Press was an American artist, and from 1950 to the 1980s was the chief designer of Rubel & Co on NY’s Fifth Avenue. He set out to revolutionise giftware, bringing his artistic sensibilities to domestic ware. Here we see a cheese/fruit board, in the shape of an apple, with one of his iconic drawings reproduced on the ceramic tile. The tile itself was made in Japan and is set in American teak, and it is signed Fred Press.
Lionel Suttie was an Australian industrial designer, bought in to Bessemer to revolutionise the design of utility ware– butter dishes, sugar bowls and table ware. This was the first time mass produced melamine products were thought worthy of design – or that they could make could make a design statement. In this image- a russet brown lidded condiment bowl, an avocado cup and saucer and a yellow sugar bowl.
Altogether a fine homage to the 70s and 70s designers.
Bessemer products – made from melamine – were made by the Nylex Melmac Corporation which started production in the mid 60s. These beautiful jugs [and the subject of future posts, I have collected a lot of Bessemer!] were designed by Lionel Suttie, an industrial designer.
It’s interesting that Mr Suttie is remembered as Bessemer’s lead designer: this was the first time that condiment or tableware made from plastic [melamine] was thought to be worthy of design – that the humble mass-produced plastic jug or butter dish could make a design statement. These jugs certainly do that- they pay homage to mid-century modernist design and in the colouring, homage to the 70s.
The jugs can be used as intended- melamine is a strong plastic resistant to scratching and these jugs are ‘as new’ – or they can form part of a funky 70s display.
70s Lucite napkin rings for your retro table setting. Guzzini have been making tableware items since 1912 and in 1938 started producing items in ‘Plexiglas’- the Italian proprietary name for Lucite [or Perspex as it is known in Australia.] And Guzzini is still producing perspex items today.
These beauties come in their original box and are in great condition. The box has fantastic 70s graphics and the title ‘Allacciatovaglioli’ which roughly translates as napkin ties [‘allaccia’=tie and ‘tovaglioli’= napkin.]
The napkin rings have been photographed with a rather groovy 70s perpetual calendar which has been sold. I am always on the lookout for these calendars- I love them!
Hornsea pottery is SUPER collectible right now: this is a jug from the ‘Heirloom’ pattern.
Hornsea Pottery started in 1949 in England and finished production in 2000. In 1970s John Clappison designed the successful – and now very collectible- series ‘Heirloom’, Saffron’ and ‘Bronte’ patterns.
Each of the designs has a repeating pattern in different colours: Heirloom is sepia & charcoal, Saffron is tan & orange and Bronte is sepia & green. I have featured the Bronte pattern previously on this blog- a set of kitchen canisters; and also more Heirloom; cups and saucers and cake plates.
I kinda like the idea of having an entire set made up from all three patterns; they look so good together. Start your Hornsea collection today with this terrific jug- in excellent condition- for sale: $AU15
Crystal Craft has become uber trendy for collectors: it is a resin-covered fabric that originated in Queensland in the 70s. This is a super 70s spoon rest- just look at the resin form and fabulous gingham pattern!
I can’t quite come at the passion some collectors have for Crystal Craft [being a child of the 70s and having had to live with it growing up] but younger collectors than I love it. I do like the gingham- and am devotee of this neat checkerboard design.
I have teamed the spoon rest with a Pyrex container of the same period, and an old bulb. The bulb is just for styling but the Pyrex container is available- I have collected this blue and a fabulous avocado green.
Diana salt & pepper shakers
made in Australia, 1970s
Further to the Diana pottery from the 40s and 50s recently discussed- meet some Diana from the 70s! This range is called ‘Safari’.
Earthen tones [tick] brutalist, oversize shape [tick] chunky form devoid of decoration [tick.] This is the 70s alright!
I have also collected the teapot, and creamer in Safari: but like a lot of 70s ware, I find less is less. It is possible to have too much of a good thing. However- if you are a big fan of the 70s [ie: you didn’t actually have to live through that time] you may like to consider the teapot and creamer.
The brutalist salt and pepper shakers are for sale: $AU25
Fun Ho! die cast ‘midget’ scale road roller
made in New Zealand 1972
Today for your interest, dear reader: a ‘midget scale die cast road roller, by Fun Ho! It’s not an exaggeration to say I collected this roller primarily due to the fantastic maker’s name: Fun Ho!
Vintage die cast models are very collectable- especially if ‘new’, and in their original box. This specimen is ‘play worn’, but otherwise intact [driver present, axles working, paint colour vibrant.] This is an exact replica of the road rollers that graded roads in the 70s, marked as #37 in the Fun Ho! series.
I’ve teamed the roller with a resin Dinosaur Designs bangle: to give scale to the roller, but also because of the colour and the repetition of the circles in the frame. Vintage Dinosaur Designs resin jewellery is also now collectable.
Flower bouquet cross stitch
made in Australia 1970s
My son Oscar [Gen Y] likens cross stitch to ‘pixel art’ and I can see his point. He is also my photographer- so as we style my collection for images to post to the blog he lets me know what he likes and absolutely DOESN’T like.
He is the child of two designers- so naturally has a firm opinion on my collection. Which I applaud and learn from; I love his interpretation of things made before he was born. I unfortunately lived through the 70s and 80s in Australia- the time that design forgot – and so sometimes have a less rosy view.
But- I love this tapestry with its stylized botanical specimens of Delphiniums and Poppies; crafted in Australian wool on hand-printed gauze; Oscar likes it because it’s a strong graphic representation of pixel art.
And I love it for another reason: I have a friend who intends to fill an entire wall of her house with found and reclaimed tapestries; I think this could be included. If it were me, they’d all be botanical in nature.
The 70s flowers cross stitch is professionally mounted and framed, ready to hang- and is for sale: $AUD45
Gempo pottery – like much of the 70s- is having a resurgence at the moment. Gempo pottery was made in Japan between1962 – and 1974 for the export market.
This pig canister has the large-faced form that marks all Gempo pottery. It is also particular to the 70s era with the stylised features, and the stoneware pottery glazed in rustic creams and browns. And the fact that the pig is wearing clothes!
I’m not sure how many animals Gempo stylised on canisters, mugs, egg cups and moneyboxes but currently in my collection I have a spotted hippo, giraffe, elephant and lion.
These condiment jars- three with pouring lips- are all ‘bung’ jars; the top was sealed originally with a removable bung made of cork. The larger three with pouring lips were made for vinegar, oil and vinegrettes and are 6 inches, the smaller ones are made for spices and are 4 ¾ inches.
The printed makers name on the base of the jars is ‘Pearsons of Chesterfield’ – the pottery works has been making stoneware jars since 1810 and only stopped production in 1994. The makers mark indicates these jars were made in the 70s.
James Pearson took over the early pottery works in the 1930s and renamed it Pearsons of Chesterfield; and when the pottery closed in 1994 it was the last of the potteries to do so.
The jars have a minimalist vibe unusual for the 70s and look fantastic massed together: they are now quite collectible and being so sturdy can be pressed into work in the contemporary kitchen.
The set of seven jars are for sale: $AUD85 Buy Now