This week’s gem from the Stoddard – Templeton Design Archive is an interesting design by American designer Marion Dorn from the 1930s.
Marion Dorn (1896-1964) was one of the most important designers of the 20th century. As well as designing textiles, rugs and carpets she also designed wallpaper, graphics, interiors and illustrations. Her carpet designs adorn some of the most famous floors in the world, including those in The Berkeley, The Savoy and Claridges in London, and in prestigious Art Deco masterpiece, The Midland Hotel in Morecambe.
She can also be credited with designing carpets for Cunard’s famous ocean liner Queen Mary, the Orient Line liners Orion and Orcades II, and, keeping with the transport theme, some highly-recognisable moquette seating fabrics for London Passenger Transport. (See here for a previous post about Enid Marx, another designer whose designs we have in the archive and who was also commissioned to design fabrics for London Passenger Transport).
Dorn was married to fellow designer Edward McKnight Kauffer, one of the most prolific and influential advertising poster artists of the Twenties and Thirties, probably best known for the iconic poster designs he created for London Underground and London Passenger Transport.
In 1934 Dorn founded her own hugely successful design company based in New Bond Street, London. Given that the stamp on the design we have states New Bond Street as the designer’s address, it’s likely that this design is from after 1934, and before 1940, as she returned to America that year.
The condition, however, is not good: The design exists in two pieces – hence the odd arrangement above – and there is some obvious surface damage. Nevertheless, the simple, often stark, qualities for which Dorn’s designs are known, are still apparent here. Using just a few colours, Dorn has somehow managed to create the illusion of depth and developed a sculptural quality, despite the absence of shading. The minimalism of this design, its austerity even, and reliance on geometry rather than nature as a source of inspiration, are in stark contrast to the majority of the designs in the archive. With World War II looming (no pun intended), this is perhaps indicative of the simplicity and austerity of things to come.
Categories: Archive Services (GUAS)
Tags: archive services, archives, art deco, Block Modern, carpet, collections, design, designer, Edward McKnight Kauffer, GUAS, Marion Dorn, Stoddard, Stoddard-Templeton Design Archive;, Templeton, textile