When Gray is Good

Milner Gray, Gilbey's Rum label


One of my favorite possessions is a Graphis magazine, No. 69 from 1956. We’ve opened it so often that it’s falling apart. I tried taping it back together since this is something you do when you get old. But now the cover has fallen off of it. There is a rather dull feature on calendars, but an incredible profile on Milner Gray. Gray (1899-1997) was a British designer who founded the Society of Industrial Artists and the Design Research Unit (not to be confused with Ellen Lupton’s Design Writing Research). His work is primarily in the realm of packaging design, although he did identity and environmental design for the 1951 Festival of Britain. Gray takes heraldry and traditional forms and treats them with a modernist bent. Simple shapes are combined with flourishes and Victorian typography. There is a contradictory sense of minimalism and ornamentation.

Unfortunately, Gray is one of those remarkable designers who have been sadly neglected in print or online. Someday, I’d like to write a book about all of these unsung heroes who changed the profession quietly.

Milner Gray, coronation mug, 1956

Milner Gray, Hartley's canned fruit

Milner Gray, Ilford packaging

Milner Gray, Austin Reed

Milner Gray, Gilbey's Invalid Port for shut-ins

Milner Gray, Jamaica Rum

Milner Gray, Pyrex packaging

Milner Gray, Old Ale label

Milner Gray, Rowland's

Milner Gray, Gilbey's Rum label

Milner Gray, Gilbey's Port label

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One Response to “When Gray is Good”

  1. Noreen Says:

    This Rocks!