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GRAY, Milner.

Four papers on packaging and industrial design from the Journal of the Royal Society of Arts.

Published: London, RSA, 1939-59

Stock code: 81478

Price: £450

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Attractively bound volume comprising four articles by Gray extracted from the journal of the RSA over a twenty year period. Inscribed by the author to his wife on the front free endpaper, “To Gnade with all my love,Milner 1959”. The papers are; “The History and Development of Packaging”(26 pages with illustrations, 5 May, 1939); “The Industrial Designer and Consumer Goods” (17 pages, 8 April 1949); “The Creative Urge” (6 pages, one illustration, 25 November 1955); “Packaging Progress” (19 pages with illustrations, August 1959). Milner Gray trained initially at Goldsmith’s, spent the First World War in the Royal Engineers School of Camouflage, and in 1921 established “with fellow students Charles Bassett and his brother Henry—the Bassett–Gray Group of Artists and Writers, effectively the first British multi-disciplinary design consultancy. The group’s complement of freelance creators included Gray’s lifelong friend Graham Sutherland and, later, Misha Black” (ODNB). In 1930 he founded the Society of Industrial Artists (SIA), which he “came to regard as his lifetime’s achievement”. In 1938 he was elected Royal Designer for Industry, and in 1940 chosen to head the Ministry of Information’s exhibitions branch. Post-war he was a founder member of the Design Research Unit which “soon began its ground-breaking work in a field which became a dominating factor in commerce over the next four decades: corporate identity … establishing a co-ordinated visual style across the full range of items, from printed material to vehicles, by which a company presented itself to the world.” Early clients included Rolex, Ilford, and British Rail. Gray was subsequently involved “branding” the Festival of Britain, the Coronation, and the Queen’s Jubilee in 1977. “In his professional life Gray did much to set the standards for designers for most of the twentieth century. His own designs—which embraced, from the early 1930s, bottles, cookware, table china, furniture, and even the Ascot gold cup, as well as graphics, exhibition design, and packaging—were always immaculate, combining craftsmanship and deep respect for materials … On a personal level he was a delightful companion, with an irreverent wit, and a formidable mimic …Gray continued to ‘enjoy weak health’ until he died, aged ninety-seven … [in]1997. At his own wish, he was cremated … without ceremony or witnesses, apart from his wife who had been his unfailing support in life and work for sixty-three years.”

Octavo. Half vellum on marbled boards, title gilt longitudinally to the spine, top edge gilt, marbled endpapers. Half-tone illustrations to the text. Very good.

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