3 min read

The 20th century Jewish émigrés who shaped modern British design

The Jewish Museum in London is exploring how, in escaping their political and social exile, these Jewish immigrants brought to Britain a knowledge of modernism which would shape some of our best-loved and most iconic brands

Dorrit Dekk

illustration of orange merman in stripy jumper playing a stringed instrument

An entertainment card first designed by Dorrit Dekk in mid 1962, and here utilised for cruise 809 on board CANBERRA. © P&O Heritage Collection www.poheritage.com

Czech-born designer Dorrit Dekk studied art and worked as a stage designer in Vienna before escaping to Britain in 1938 following the Nazi annexation of Austria. During the war she worked as  a ‘listener’ noting down encrypted messages to Bletchley Park, and later worked for the Central Office of Information creating public service announcement posters. She became a freelance graphic designer in 1950 and went on to produce branding and campaign designs for iconic British companies including P&O, the Post Office Saving Bank, Penguin and London Transport.

Frederick Henri Kay Henrion

poster showing four hands, each with a different nations' flag, pulling apart a black swastika against a yellow sky

Four Hands poster, 1944, FHK Henrion. © FHK Henrion Archive, University of Brighton Design Archives. By courtesy of the Henrion estate

photograph of tate + lyle sugar packages in red and blue

Tate & Lyle boxes, logo by FHK Henrion, FHK Henrion Archive, University of Brighton Design Archives. Courtesy of the Henrion estate.

German graphic designer Frederick Henri Kay Henrion, fled Nazi persecution in 1936, setting up his studio in London. As an enemy alien he was interned on the Isle of Man for six months. Despite this, soon after his internment he was employed by the Ministry of Information and later became a consultant to the Ministry of Information, the War Office, the General Post Office and the US Office of War Information in London. He designed for Tate + Lyle, The National Theatre and London Electricity Board, as well as producing campaigns for CND. He also designed two pavilions for the 1951 Festival of Britain.

Manfred Reiss

poster showing illustration of postman leaning through the hole in a pen nib, holding a correctly addressed letter. reading 'address your letters correctly'

Poster advising on correct addressing of mail, designed by Manfred Reiss, 1950. © Royal Mail Group ltd 2017, courtesy of The Postal Museum

Manfred Reiss came with his family to London in 1937, to escape Nazi rule. His prolific and celebrated works include Second World War safety posters and many designs for the General Post Office and Post Office Savings Bank.

Stan Krol

poster showing illustration of black cat holding an umbrella falling in front of an orange, white and black background. reading 'falls are not funny'

Falls Are Not Funny poster, designed by Stan Krol, 1967. © The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

poster showing abstract painting of firework design, reading 'fireworks can blind & burn, take scare - stop accidents'

Fireworks Can Blind and Burn poster, designed by Stan Krol, 1967. ©The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

Little is known about Stan Kroll who was born in 1910 and designed posters for the GPO in the 1950s and for London Transport between 1966 and 1972. These poster were designed for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents which has been in existence for nearly a century – changing both legislation and attitudes surrounding accidents.

Sir Misha Black OBE

a street sign for Bourdon Place, W1, City of Westminster

Bourdon Place street sign, designed by Misha Black, 1960s © Jewish Museum London

Born in the Russian Empire, Misha Black became a highly-respected British architect and designer, founding the Design Research Unit – a pioneering design consultancy. Black created perhaps one of the most iconic pieces of London design – the City of Westminster street signs. It’s also believed that the company produced London Transport’s District moquette, a brown and orange fabric design synonymous with London travel in the 70s and 80s.

Tom Karen

photograph of blue chopper bicycle

Raleigh Chopper bicycle. The Chopper was originally designed by Tom Karen and launched in 1969. © Jewish Museum London

photograph of brightly coloured marble run toy

Marble Run, 2017, produced by Galt Toys. The Marble Run was originally designed by Tom Karen in 1970. © Jewish Museum London

Viennese born of Czech descent Tom Karen’s designs via his company Ogle Design gave the seventies some of their most iconic, some might even say defining, products. As well as the Bush TR130 Radio and the Bond Bug he designed the Chopper bicycle. Launched in 1969 it went on to become the ultimate boys’ bicycle of decade and remains a cultural icon of the period.

Jan Le Witt and George Him

poster showing illustration of horse with a shoe for a body, reading 'walk when you can and ease the burdon which war puts on transport'

Poster urging the public to “use shanks’ pony” and walk when possible to ease wartime strain on public transport. Designed by Jan Le Witt and George Him. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Polish-born British Jan Le Witt (1907-1991) had a long professional partnership with George Him. Their company Lewitt-Him fused colour, abstraction and symbolism in a series of posters for the government during World War Two before designing the Guinness clock for the Festival of Britain in 1951.

Designs on Britain runs from October 19 2017 – April 15 2018 at the Jewish Museum London. Find out more at http://www.jewishmuseum.org.uk/designs


Jewish Museum London

London, Greater London

We are open to all. Our museum tells the story of the history and heritage of Jews in Britain through universal themes of migration, family, faith and culture. Visit us and discover the history, culture and heritage of Jews in Britain from 1066 to the present day. Explore our four…

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *