Marion Dorn

(1896—1964) designer

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(1896–1964) Marion Dorn was one of the most important textile and rug designers of the first half of the 20th century. In addition to furnishing textiles she also designed interiors, wallpapers, graphics, and illustrations. Born in the United States she studied graphics at Standford University, moving into textile design in the early 1920s. Significant in forming her design outlook was a trip to Paris in 1923 with the American textile designer Ruth Reeves, who was well connected with a number of leading French designers such as Raoul Dufy. In the same year she moved to London with designer Edward McKnight Kauffer (with whom she lived until his death in 1954) establishing herself as an illustrator and designer of batiks. During the 1920s her designs began to attract attention, being illustrated in Vogue and The Studio Yearbook of Decorative Art (See Studio) and exhibited at the International Exhibition of Arts and Crafts, Leipzig, in 1927. She was subsequently awarded a number of significant commissions for rugs and carpets for several hotels. These included the Berkeley, London (1931, 1935, and 1939), Claridges, London (1932), the prestigious Midland Hotel, Morecambe (1932–3), designed by Oliver Hill, and the Savoy, London (1933–4). Other commissions of note related to transport design, including Cunard's prestigious ocean liner Queen Mary (1935), the Orient Line liners Orion (1935) and Orcades II (1937), and moquette seating fabrics for the design-conscious London Passenger Transport Board (1936–7). She also exhibited at a number of exhibitions that were significant showcases for design in Britain. The most important were held in London: the Dorland Hall Exhibition of Industrial Design Relating to the Home (1933), the British Art in Industry Exhibition at the Royal Academy (1935), and the Everyday Things Exhibition at the Royal Institute of British Architects. She also exhibited five textile designs at the Paris Exposition of 1937. She had established her own company, Marion Dorn Ltd., in 1834. Among the British companies she designed for were the Wilton Royal Carpet Co., Edinburgh Weavers, Warner & Sons, Donald Brothers, and Old Bleach Linen. Following the outbreak of war, Dorn and Kauffer moved to America in 1940. Although she never found success comparable to that which she had enjoyed in Britain she designed for a number of companies including F. Schumacher & Co. (1950), Katzenbach & Wareen (1952), and Greeff Fabrics (1956).

From A Dictionary of Modern Design in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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