The focus of this week’s gem from the Stoddard Templeton Design Archive are a small selection of designs by Enid Marx RDI (1902-1998). A distant cousin of the German philosopher Karl Marx, Enid Crystal Dorothy Marx was a London-based painter and designer who studied at the Central School of Art and Crafts and the Royal College of Art. During her 70 year career this distinguished designer produced a kaleidoscope of work.
Marx’s designs, usually abstract and geometric, were not only extremely fashionable, but also very practical. In 1937 she was asked by the London Passenger Transport Board to design the hard-wearing, cotton- velvet seating fabric, known as moquette, for use on London bus and Tube seats, and it remained among the work of which she was most proud. Towards the end of WWII she was invited to be a member of the Board of Trade Utility Furniture team, which designed large quantities of cheap furniture for people who had suffered bomb damage. Marx was responsible for creating textiles in as great a variety as possible from a very limited supply of yarns and range of colours, and in 1944 she was awarded the coveted title Royal Designer for Industry. After the war she designed book covers for publishers, most notably Penguin. Then in 1953 the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II gave Marx the chance to explore yet another design medium – postage stamps.
Enid Marx’s work won the admiration of critics and fellow designers alike. Alan Powers, the painter and architectural historian whose Judd Street Gallery in London hosted an exhibition of her work in December 1990, stated:
Enid was a brilliant pattern-maker with an eye for crisp design, a natural feel for and understanding of the importance of scale and a tremendous knowledge of many different printing techniques…. She used simple units spaced in such a way that the patterns leapt to life…
Marx’s designs in the Stoddard Templeton Design Archive (STOD/DES/121/1/11-14) all carry her title ‘RDI’, which would date them to post-1944. Furthermore, they illustrate Templeton’s continued interest and investment in the work of contemporary designers of note.
For more information about the Stoddard-Templeton Design Archive click here.
Categories: Archive Services (GUAS)