Keith Murray


Keith Murray English Art Deco Ceramic Ashtray with Architectural Ribbing and Matte Spring Green Glaze (LEO Design)


The architect and industrial designer, Keith Murray, is considered one of the most important of the Art Deco (formerly called the Art Moderne) period.  He was born in New Zealand in 1892.  As a young man, he worked as a draughtsman in an architectural office—which was to greatly influenced his future career as an architect and industrial designer.  Murray also harbored a passion for aeronautics and was involved with amateur plane-building and flying in New Zealand.

During World War I, Murray became a distinguished Royal Air Force pilot.  After the war, he studied architecture in London.  But Murray had difficulty finding work as an architect and made-ends-meet by doing commercial illustration work.  During the Paris Exposition of 1925 (of decorative and industrial arts), Murray developed an interest in designing consumer goods for the burgeoning middle class.  He worked for the ceramics manufacturer Wedgwood, high-end silversmiths Mappin & Webb, and glassmaker Stevens & Williams.

Murray re-joined the RAF before the outbreak of World War II.  After this war, he left industrial design and began working as an architect.  He is known for designing the new Wedgwood Factory on the outskirts of Stoke-on-Trent, the British European Airways hangars at London (Heathrow) Airport, and the terminal building at the old Hong Kong International (Kai Tak) Airport.

The ceramic ashtray, shown above, was designed by Murray for Wedgwood.  It displays his signature "architectural ribbing," an affect he would utilize thoughout his career.  It is finished in a gentle "Spring Green" matte glaze.  Click on the photo above to learn more about it.


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