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Keith Murray

(1892—1981) architect and industrial designer


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1892–1981

New Zealand born Murray was trained as an architect although he is perhaps most widely known for his restrained, poetic, yet functional ceramic designs for Josiah Wedgwood in the 1930s, his unaffected glassware for Stevens & Williams, and enduringly classic forms for silverware for Mappin & Webb. He first came to England with his parents in 1906, later training as an architect at the Architectural Association after the First World War. Given the meagre opportunities that were open to architects in the economically difficult years of the early 1920s, Murray turned to design as an alternative means of aesthetic expression. He was impressed by the elegance and grace of Scandinavian and Czechoslovakian glass, which he had seen at the 1925 Paris Exposition des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels and began experimenting in the medium. The 1931 the Exhibition of Swedish Art in London afforded further opportunities to experience such work at first hand. In 1932 Murray was employed by the Staffordshire glassmaking firm of Stevens & Williams, producing designs that attracted considerable critical attention and praise. From 1933 he was employed at Wedgwood where his elegant designs showed affinities with Modernism. Murray's designs were included in many of the pro‐modernizing design exhibitions of the 1930s such as the landmark British Industrial Art in Relation to the Home at Dorland Hall, London, in 1933. His work was also represented at the Milan Triennale of 1933, the British Art in Industry exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1935, and in the British contribution to the 1937 Paris Exposition des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne. In 1936 Murray was elected as one of the first Designers for Industry by the Royal Society of Arts (see Royal Designers for Industry). In the late 1930s Murray turned to architecture, designing the new Wedgwood factory at Barlaston.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art — Decorative Arts, Furniture, and Industrial Design.


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