James Gardner

(1907—1995) designer and graphic artist

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(1907–95) A leading British exhibition and museum designer, Gardner also worked as graphic artist and industrial designer. He attended Westminster School of Art, followed by a six-year apprenticeship at Cartier's the Jewellers of Bond Street, London. Subsequently he was employed at the Carlton Studios, a London-based commercial design consultancy, for much of the 1930s. However, it was not until after the Second World War that Gardner began to emerge as a major figure in museum and display design. He became chief designer for the landmark 1946 Britain Can Make It exhibition. This was the first of a series of commissions for the Council of Industrial Design (see Design Council), including the Enterprise Scotland exhibition of 1947 and the Festival of Britain of 1951. Other important official commissions followed, including the British Government Pavilion at the Brussels World Fair of 1958 and the British contribution to the Montreal World Fair of 1967. In the latter he portrayed the dynamic, creative side of life in 1960s Britain including in his display Carnaby Street fashions and an Austin Mini decorated with the Union Jack. He was also involved in mainstream industrial design and interior design commissions. These included a prestigious commission from Cunard to design the superstructure and interior for their QE2 ocean liner, for which he supervised work in 1966. Gardner's museum display work attracted particularly favourable notice from exhibition design professionals due to the way in which he was able to communicate the complexities of science, technology, and history in a simple yet effective manner. Amongst his greatest achievements were the Evoluon Museum for Philips in Eindhoven (1966), the Museum of the Diaspora in Tel Aviv (1978), the National Museum of Natural Science in Taiwan (1988), and the Museum of Intolerance, Los Angeles (1993). In 1989 he was awarded the Chartered Society of Designers Medal for outstanding achievement in industrial design.

From A Dictionary of Modern Design in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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