University of Brighton Design Archives

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Woman in orange jumper looking at a framed advertising image for BOAC at the British Design Exhibition in North America (no date), picture taken from the Willy de Majo Archive housed at the University of Brighton Design Archives.

Willy de Majo

A colour photograph showing three Clayton bottles from the packaging design for Clayton (no date) section of the Willy de Majo Archive, housed at the University of Brighton Design Archives.

‘Clayton bottles’. Packaging design for Clayton (no date). Uncatalogued.

De Majo played a major role within the international design community in the second half of the twentieth century. He founded ICOGRADA, whose archive came to the university in 2003, and was vocal in his support of designers and in his defence of their professional status. De Majo’s archive will allow the development of two particular research strengths within the collections, the relationship between designers and the organisations that represent them and secondly, the nature of the post-war design practice, its operations, clients, costs and work flow.

A black and white photograph of a Christmas lighter display from work relating to Ronson Consumer Products Corporation (no date). Taken from the Willy de Majo Archive housed at the University of Brighton Design Archives.

‘Christmas lighter display’. From work relating to Ronson Consumer Products Corporation (no date). Catalogue number: WDM-3-1-1-20.

William Maks de May was born in Vienna, to Yugoslav parents, in 1917. He was trained at the Vienna Handelsakademie and established his own design business in Belgrade in 1935. Moving to Britain in 1939, he joined the RAF in 1941 and after the war re-established his design practice in London. De Majo was appointed consultant designer to Miles-Martin Pen Co., Miles Aircraft and Henry Lunn Ltd., W & A Gilbey, John Millar & Sons and later, Charles Letts & Co. Ltd. He offered services in graphic, industrial and exhibition design, corporate identity, packaging, and product development, as his entry in Who’s Who in Graphic Art (1962) described, his designs range from visiting cards to interiors of airliners. In 1951, Willy de Majo acted as co-ordinating designer of the Farm and Factory exhibition held in Northern Ireland as part of the Festival of Britain. His wife, Veronica, designed a striking outdoor mobile as part of the display: she also assisted with many other projects. De Majo made a presentation at the Aspen International Design Conference in 1953 and in 1963 became the founding president of the International Council of Graphic Design Associations. His ability to speak several languages made him an effective advocate, and he was Chairman of the Icograda Congress in Zurich (1964) and in Bled (1966). In 1969 he was awarded the SIAD Design Medal for International Services to Design and the Profession.

Browse this archive.

Am advertisement for Jersey Modelle. Taken from the Willy de Majo Archive housed at the University of Brighton Design Archives.

‘Jersey Modelle’ (no date). Uncatalogued.

A black and white photograph from the Festival of Britain, Northern Ireland from 1951. Taken from the Willy de Majo Archive housed at the University of Brighton Design Archives.

‘Festival of Britain, Northern Ireland’. (1951). Catalogue number: EDM-3-2-1-7.

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Sirpa Kutilainen • January 1, 1998


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