Frank Carpay


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Carpay's career as a ceramic, textile, and graphic designer in New Zealand epitomized the difficulties of introducing a modernizing aesthetic in a country with a limited tradition of design other than the more traditional patterns imported from Europe (or those of indigenous culture). Dutch‐born designer Carpay was trained at the's Hertogenbosch Technical School in Holland, where he acquired a range of design and craft skills. After the Second World War he was made design director (1946–50) at Het Edele Ambacht, a small manufactory of ceramics, glass, furniture, and metalwork. Leaving the company in 1950, he travelled to the south of France, where he met Pablo Picasso, who was involved with ceramic design. On his return to Holland Carpay established his own pottery, although for various reasons this proved a short‐lived venture. In 1953 he emigrated to Auckland, New Zealand, where a job was created for him at the Crown Lynn ceramics factory. He was responsible for decorative work, including the Handwerk range characterized by individualistic brushwork and reminiscences of Picasso and Matisse. However, despite being exhibited in several venues in New Zealand and attracting some critical attention the range was discontinued and Carpay laid off in 1956. Frank Carpay Designs Limited moved into screenprinting, commencing with tablemats decorated with Maori‐inspired patterns, extending into beach towels, printed fabrics, and beachwear in the 1960s. His beachwear captured the imagination of the young style‐conscious audience of the period, his interest in patterns drawn from Pacific culture anticipating more positive trends two decades later.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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