An ode to 70s design

Fred Press cheeseboard & Bessemer piecesFred 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.

This set is for sale: $AUD105

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60s goodness

Pyrex 'Sunburst' flask, Bessemer printed plate, 60sBessemer plate, made in Australia 1965-70
Pyrex ‘Sunburst’ flask jug, made in USA 1960s

This is Pyrex at its best- a jug modelled on a laboratory flask with an ‘atomic’ sunburst pattern in gold. The stopper is graduated plastic, in good old yellow plastic. The jug has a pouring lip, two litre capacity and being Pyrex, is good for hot and cold liquids. Pyrex is very collectible – and the jug is in excellent condition. And –it makes a terrific vase when it’s not serving hot and cold liquids.

The Bessemer plate is likewise very collectable. It is one of a series of six, designed by A. Wiederkehr – and is culturalyl important enough to be in the Powerhouse Museum collection. I would have loved to have collected all six- but alas- after so long hunting I have only found this one ‘in the wild’ [as collectors say.] I have found plenty of plates, of all the patterns – but they are invariably so scratched from use that I rejected purchasing.

If you are a Pyrex collector [and there are quite a few!] or a Bessemer collector, please check out the other items on my blog. I am a big fan of early 60s industrial designers – and Pyrex and Bessemer tick all the boxes!

The flask and plate are in excellent vintage condition, and are for sale: $AU45

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70s kitchenalia

70s Bessemer 'avocado' platter and cup& saucer, Owl trivetBessemer platter and cup & saucer, made in Australia 1970s
Wrought iron owl trivet, made in Taiwan 1970s

Bessemer ‘avocado’ ware is very collectible- here we have a platter and cup and saucer. Avocado refers to the particular shade of 70s green; this colour is rarely seen nowadays and is so heavily associated with the 70s.

Owls too- in all their forms- are highly collectible. This is a must-have for any owl collector; a wrought iron trivet for the kitchen. Highly stylised in that quintessential 70s way, the trivet has little rubber feet to lift it from the work surface, and it is simply marked ‘Taiwan’ with no other makers’ mark.

All pieces are in excellent [unused] condition, and are for sale: $65

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An ode to 70s design

Fred Press cheeseboard & Bessemer piecesAn 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.

This set is for sale: $AUD105

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Bessemer white series

Bessemer white seriesBessemer White Series
made in Melbourne, c. 1970s

Bessemer products – made from melamine – were made by the Nylex Melmac Corporation which started production in the mid 60s. These beautiful pieces were designed by Lionel Suttie-an industrial designer-and were produced in Melbourne until the mid 70s.

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 sugar bowl could make a design statement. And this set of three- two lidded condiment containers and a jug- is rare in that it is white and has never been used.

This set can be used as intended- melamine is a strong plastic resistant to scratching and the set is ‘as new’ – or they can form part of a funky 70s display. I have teamed them with a hand-woven white and green raffia oil bottle- also c. 1970s- as a visual contrast.

Think the Beatles White Album [1968.]  Think the white Bessemer series; for sale: $AUD55

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Bessemer salt & pepper sets, and egg cup

Bessemer s&p sets and egg cupBessemer salt and pepper shakers, and double egg-cup
made in Australia, c.1970s

I have waxed lyrical about Bessemer products in previous posts– made from melamine, they were made by the Nylex Melmac Corporation which started production in the mid 60s. These salt and pepper shakers and the double egg-cup 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 a humble mass-produced domestic item could make a design statement. This set certainly does that- they pay homage to mid-century modernist design and in the colouring, homage to the 70s.

The salt and pepper sets are [l to r] orange, russet-brown and chartreuse. The double egg-cup is matches the russet-brown salt & pepper set…although you can see it has it’ own little indentations either side of the egg-cups which house it’s own salt and pepper.

Start your Bessemer collection today…or add to your existing Bessemer collection…or better yet- use these funky pieces as part of your retro breakfast display!

For sale: $AUD80

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Bessemer butter dishes & sugar bowls [sold]

Bessemer butter and sugar bowlsBessemer butter dishes and sugar bowls
made in Melbourne, c. 1970s

Here are some more Bessemer wares, further to my post below [where I admitted to having a little bit of a Bessemer collection.] These dishes and bowls came in yellow, green, blue, orange and russet brown [that ‘70s’ brown] so along with plates and cups and saucers, you could mix and match your tableware.

Bessemer is now quite collectible,  and I have seen some incredible prices on them in ‘antique’ shops. I’m not sure I can come at the idea of retro collectibles being antiques, but clearly others can. Bessemer rates a mention in Adrian Franklin’s Retro: A Guide to the mid-20th Century Design Revival [2011, NewSouth Publishing] which my lovely friends J & L gave to me for my birthday- a fantastic resource, reference and source of eye-candy. Thanks J & L!

For sale: $AUD120

Bessemer jugs

Bessemer jugs
made in Melbourne, c. 1970s

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.

For sale: $AUD60

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