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Frank Gehry, Club Chair and Coffee Table (detail). Heller 2010
Photo: Louis Jacinto

Frank Gehry: 40 Years of Product Design 1972 to 2012

Curated by Bill Stern
JF Chen @ 1135, Highland Ave. Arts District, Los Angeles, CA.
Oct. 25, 2015 – Nov. 7, 2015

Banners designed by Felis Stella, 2015

Although Frank Gehry has been amply recognized for his architecture, he has not received similar attention for his product designs, which were produced over the same period of time. That’s puzzling, because many of those products contain or are made of unexpected materials, materials that impart new vitality to the object’s form in much the same way Gehry’s building materials animate the forms of his structures.

As I researched Gehry’s products for our exhibition “Frank Gehry: 40 Years of Product Design 1972 to 2012,” I was stunned to discover that it would be the first-ever survey of his products. Of course, the exhibition included Gehry’s well-known corrugated paper chair in the Easy Edges line plus a wiggly ottoman. But that was just the beginning of four decades of creativity.

There were the several lines of jewelry produced by Tiffany & Co., among them Torque, Axis, Equus, Fold, Orchid, Flux, Wave and Fish: more than one hundred different pieces in all, including bracelets, earrings, cufflinks, pendants, necklaces, rings and bangles. And in a stunning variety of materials: from sterling silver to agate to diamonds.

And lighting - looming Clouds and extravagant Fish lamps – as well as an elegantly twisted glass bottle for Wyborowa Vodka in Poland, a handsome fish-themed tea kettle for Alessi in Italy and a sterling silver and cement ring for Tiffany & Co. Yes, cement!

Bill Stern

Sponsors of the Exhibition: JF Chen, Heller, The Jaffe Family, Knoll Inc.

Credit for photos unless otherwise noted:





Curated by Bill Stern
Executive Director, Museum of California Design

August 10, 2012 through January 6, 2013


The Autry
4700 Western Heritage Way
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 667-2000

Kavanaugh Textile

This unprecedented exhibition focuses on the work of 46 of the many exceptional women who, working state-wide from San Francisco to San Diego, helped make California a preeminent center of American commercial design and fine craft. Among them are: Esther Bruton, Edith Heath, Dorothy Thorpe, Gertrud Natzler, Beatrice Wood, Ray Eames, Marilyn Kay Austin, Jade Snow Wong, Gere Kavanaugh, Deborah Sussman, Judith Hendler and April Greiman.

The combination of California’s climate of innovation, freedom from restrictive traditions and a highly competitive business climate provided creative and business opportunities for women designers which probably would not have been available to them elsewhere. In California they helped transform the stereotypically female vocation of decorative arts into the gender-neutral realm of design with its frequent ties to industrial production and commerce.

The utilitarian and decorative objects in this exhibition reflect developments in an array of technologies from hand-cut wood block prints to computer-aided graphics and in materials from wood, metal, clay, paper, cloth and enamel to fiberglass and acrylics and in all the major aesthetic movements of the 20th century, from Art Nouveau to Mid-century Modern and beyond.

The exhibition is dedicated to our late board member Alan Jaffe.
Elizabeth Eaton Burton Lamp

Elizabeth Eaton Burton
United States, 1869-1937
Worked in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles
Table lamp
Circa 1910
Copper and shell
Private collection

Esther Bruton
United States, 1896–1992
Worked in San Francisco and Santa Fe, NM
Rabbit Hunt
Floor screen
Circa 1929
Gold and silver leaf on wood
Collection of the Annex Galleries
Photo: Annex Galleries

Ester Bruton Screen
Thorpe Tray

Dorothy Thorpe
United States, 1901-1989
Worked in Los Angeles
Circa 1939
Dorothy C. Thorpe, Inc.
Collection: Margaret Bach
Photo: Lorca Cohen

May Hamilton
United States, 1886-1971
Vieve Hamilton
United States, 1887-1976
Worked in Pasadena and Culver City
Circa 1936
Private Collection
Photo: Peter Brenner

Hamilton Bowl
Hamilton Plaque

May Hamilton de Causse
United States, 1886–1971
Worked in Pasadena and Culver City
Two Women
Circa 1934
Hamilton Studio
Private collection
Photo: Susan Einstein

Ray Eames
United States, 1912–1988
Worked in Los Angeles
Magazine cover
Arts & Architecture
August 1943
University of California, Los Angeles
Special Collections
Photo: Museum of California Design

Eames Cover
Marilyn Kaye Austin planter

Marilyn Kay Austin
United States, born 1940
Worked in Los Angeles
Floor vase
Circa 1962
Architectural Pottery
Collection of Bill Stern
Photo: Susan Einstein

Margit Fellegi
United States, 1903–1975
Worked in Los Angeles
Scandal Suit
Bathing suit
Nylon knit jersey
Cole of California
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Photo: © 2011 Museum Associates/LACMA

Margit Fellegi Scandal Suit
Hender Lemon Drop Necklace

Judith Hendler
United States, born 1941
Works in Huntington Beach
Lemon Drops
Circa 1984
Acri-Gems Inc.
Collection of Judith Hendler
Photo: Mario Almarez

Arline Fisch
United States, born 1931
Works in San Diego
Shoulder ornament
Fine and sterling silver
Collection of Arline Fisch

Arlene Fisch Shoulder piece


DW-title wall DW-Arts and Crafts DW-Screen

Exhibition wall, Autry National Center.

Photo: Steve Aldana

Florence Lundborg
United States 1871–1949
Worked in San Francisco
Poster, The Lark November 1896,
Woodcut print
Publisher: William Doxey, San Francisco

Elizabeth Eaton Burton (1869–1937)
Worked in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles
Document chest
Circa 1910
Walnut, copper and abalone

Desk lamps
Circa 1910
Copper and shell

Pair of candleholders
Circa 1910

Photo: Museum of California Design

Esther Bruton (1896–1992)
Worked in San Francisco and Santa Fe, NM
Rabbit Hunt Floor screen Gold and silver leaf on wood
Circa 1929

Photo: Museum of California Design

Esther Bruton was an artist, muralist, and advertising illustrator. Born in California and educated in New York and Paris, she returned to California to work as a fashion illustrator for the I. Magnin department store in San Francisco. She painted this screen while in Taos, New Mexico, in 1929. It was shown in an exhibition of work by Esther Bruton and her two sisters, Helen and Margaret, at Bullock’s Wilshire Gallery in Los Angeles in 1930 and at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco in 1932. This is its first museum showing.


May Hamilton (1887–1976) and Vieve Hamilton 1886–1971
Worked in Pasadena and Culver City
Head With Hair Earthenware, circa 1936
Manufactured by Vernon Kilns

Photo: Museum of California Design

Jane Bennison (1913–2001)
Worked in Los Angeles
Bowls and rectangular vases
Earthenware, circa 1936
Manufactured by Vernon Kilns

Photo: Museum of California Design


Ray Eames (1912–1988)
Worked in Los Angeles
Splint sculpture
Molded plywood, circa 1943

Photo: Museum of California Design

Ray Eames, a native of California, collaborated with her husband on the design of some of the most widely used and influential designs of the twentieth century, including their revolutionary fiberglass and molded plywood chairs. But Ray also produced significant works under her own name. In the early 1940s she turned several of the Navy splints she and her husband designed into abstract sculptures.

Wilmer James (1917–1999)
Worked in Los Angeles
2 cache pots, 1 vase, earthenware, circa 1950

Photo: Museum of California Design

Wilmer James, one of California’s first African-American designers of commercial ceramics, learned the technique of producing crackle glazes while working for Barbara Willis in North Hollywood. After the importation of inexpensive European and Japanese ceramics, -- which had stopped during World War II, -- rebounded in the late 1950s, many California ceramics manufacturers, including James, went out of business. She went on to become a printmaker, a commercial artist and a prominent arts educator.


Ellamarie Woolley (1913-1976)
Worked in San Diego
Twice Over
Wall plaque, enamel on copper, circa 1972

Photo: Courtesy Museum of California Design

This two-dimensional piece produces the optical illusion of 3-dimensionality with the help of subtle color differences that produce the impression of shadowing.

Furniture by Muriel Coleman (1917–2003)
Worked in OaklandThe room-divider/shelf unit was made of surplus rebar and local redwood.

Photo: Steve Aldana


Cher Pendarvis, born 1950
Works in San Diego
Surfboard Fiberglass, polyurethane foam, circa 1976
Manufactured by Channin Surfboards and Mike Casey

Photo: Museum of California Design


Middle two:
Mary Ann DeWeese (1913–1993)
Worked in Los Angeles
c. 1932, c. 1965

Right two:
Margit Fellegi (1903–1975)
Worked in Los Angeles
c. 1965, 1965.

Photo: Museum of California Design

Ceramics made by Gertrud Natzler (1908–1971)
Worked in Vienna, Austria, and Los Angeles
(glazes by Otto Natzler)

Furniture by Dorothy Schindele (1915–2004)
Manufactured by Modern Colro, INc.

Photo: Museum of California Design


Center: Furniture by Greta Magnusson Grossman (1906–1999)

Photo: Bill Dow

Dorothy Thorpe (1901–1989)
Worked in Glendale

Umbrella stand/vase
Circa 1972
Manufactured by
Dorothy C. Thorpe Inc.
(Sun Valley, California)
Monterrey creamer,
Santa Barbara compote,
Brocade cup
earthenware, circa 1965
Manufactured by
Crown Lynn Potteries (New Zealand)
Silver Band decoration for glass table wares
silver dipped, circa 1970
Manufactured by Dorothy C. Thorpe Inc. (Sun Valley, California)

Pepper mill, glass and steel, circa 1968
Manufactured by Dorothy C. Thorpe Inc. (Sun Valley, California)

Photo: Museum of California Design

DW-Arlene DW-Sussman DW-Kavanaugh

Arline Fisch, born 1931
Works in San Diego

Halter, Sterling silver, 1968

Shoulder ornament, fine and sterling silver, 1986

Photo: Museum of California Design

Deborah Sussman, born 1931
Works in Los Angeles
Supergraphic, circa 1986

Recreation of the original installation in Joseph Magnin, San Jose, California.

Photo: Museum of California Design

Gere Kavanaugh at the opening of CALIFORNIA'S DESIGNING WOMEN1896-1986 at the Autry National Center.

Photo: Bill Dow


This exhibition "is a landmark of cultural legacy with the potential to inspire."
                                                            -- Jeffrey Head, Modern Magazine, Fall 2012.
<<<click to download full article


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Curated by Bill Stern
Craft & Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles
September 27, 2009 - January 10, 2010

MYTH AND MANPOWER encourages the visitor to experience the power of graphic design to communicate ideas — from the selling of commercial products to the promotion of social issues.  The exhibition accomplishes this by juxtaposing labels created for promoting California citrus fruits -- and California itself -- with posters that the United Farm Workers of America created to mobilize for agricultural workers’ rights.

Each exhibit in MYTH AND MANPOWER presents one of the glamorous lithographed labels that adorned crates of California citrus fruits that used to be displayed in grocery stores throughout the United States next to one of the tough labor union posters distributed by the United Farm Workers of America.

CAFAM exhibit page.


Carefree Brand
Redlands Orangedale Association
Redlands, California
Designer: Unknown, c. 1940
Printer: Unknown
Medium: Offset lithograph
Dimensions: 10 3/4 in. x 9 7/8 in.
Collection: Museum of
California Design

United Farm Workers of America
Designer: Barbara Carrasco, c. 1999
Printer: Self-Help Graphics
Medium: Silkscreen
Dimensions: 26 in. x 18 in.
Collection: Self-Help Graphics Archives
California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives, Dept of Special Collections, Donald Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara

Miracle Brand
Bradford Bros. Inc.
Placentia, California
Designer: Unknown, c. 1940
Printer: Western Litho. Co.,
Los Angeles, California
Medium: Offset Lithograph
Dimensions: 10 3/4 in. x 9 7/8 in.
Collection: Museum of
California Design

Cesar Chavez: Portrait of La Causa
United Farm Workers of America
Designer: Octavio Ocampo, n.d
Printer: Unknown
Medium: Lithograph
Dimensions: 25 in. x 17 1/2 in.
Collection: Center for the Study of Political Graphics, Los Angeles

Although they draw on similar themes each graphic in a pair uses its own style to convey its message. Thus, the key element in each — whether that be the California landscape, women, modes of transportation or animals — is represented in a radically different way.

The names of few of the artists who designed the citrus labels — which were printed in San Francisco and Los Angeles in the first half of the 20th century — are known. However, most of the Untied Farm Workers posters in the exhibition, from later in the 20th century, were designed by well-recognized Chicano artists and designers — Barbara Carrasco, Octavio Ocampo, Peter Gallegos, Ricardo Favela, Juanishi Orozco, Estaban Villa, and Xavier Viramontes — and Chicano art collectives — Graphic Arts Group (San Francisco), Royal Chicano Air Force (Sacramento) and La Raza Silkscreen Center (San Francisco).

Both the citrus industry and the United Farm Workers played significant roles in the economic development of California in the 20th century and continue to be mainstays of the state’s economy. Each has had a significant impact on the multi-faceted character of the state, from the wealth that produced “millionaires row” on Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena to the strides made for social justice by Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and activists of the farm workers movement. MYTH AND MANPOWER honors their contributions to California’s design history.

The United Farm Workers posters were lent to the exhibition by the California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the Center for the Study of Political Graphics in Los Angeles and All Of Us Or None Archive, Berkeley, courtesy of Lincoln Cushing.  The citrus box labels are from the collection of the A. K. Smiley Library, Redlands, California, Museum of California Design, Los Angeles, California, and Jill and Lily Collins. Exhibition paper conservator and framing consultant: Kene Rosa.

Tom Cat
Orosi Foothill Citrus Association
Orosi, California
Designer: Unknown, c. 1930
Printer: Unknown
Medium: Offset lithograph
Dimensions: 10 in. x 11 in.
Collection: Archive, A.K. Smiley Public Library

Side with the Farm Workers
United Farm Workers of America
Designer: Unknown, c. 1970
Printer: Unknown
Medium: Silkscreen
Dimensions: 22 3/4 in. x 14 1/2 in.
Collection: Center for the Study of Political Graphics, Los Angeles


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Architectural PotteryClick Here For Exhibition Photos

On February 16, 17 and 18, 2007, the Museum of California Design presented “Ornament is a Crime: The Classic Modernism of Architectural Pottery“ at Palm Springs Modernism 2007. This exhibition of 22 Modernist works by Architectural Pottery, the recipient of the Museum of California Design’s 2006 Henry Award for its contributions to American design, was curated by the museum’s director, Bill Stern. More than 3,000 people visited the exhibition during its three-day run at the Palm Springs Convention Center.

Whenever you see a tree or a plant in a white cylinder -- in a home or an office building or at a gasoline station -- it is because of Architectural Pottery. When the company’s designers introduced their large format undecorated ceramic vessels in 1950 -- vessels equally suited for home interiors and patios, as well as commercial buildings - they helped fulfill one of the major goals of Mid-century Modern architecture, breaking down the distinction between interior and exterior space.

Architectural Pottery was founded in Los Angeles in 1950 by Max and Rita Lawrence, John Folis and Rex Goode after the Lawrences, who lived in Gregory Ain’s famed indoor/outdoor Dunsmuir Apartments, saw large-scale modernist ceramic planters and sand jars designed by LaGardo Tackett and his students, among them Folis, Goode, Douglas Deeds, and Lawrence Halperin at the California School of Art in Hollywood.

In addition to revolutionary planters/sand jars, “ORNAMENT IS A CRIME“ will include Malcolm Leland’s iconic bird shelter and Gordon Newell’s Matisse-inspired birdbath and. The other designers represented in the show will be Marilyn Kay Austin, Raul Coronel, David Cressey, John Folis and Mr.Tackett.

“Ornament Is A Crime,” the dictum of Modernism, was formulated by the Czech architect Adolf Loos in 1922. This phrase sums up the belief of strict Modernists that design should include only those elements essential to the structural composition of an object or a building. And though the strictest of Modernists contend that color is ornament, such eminent practioners of the style as Charles and Ray Eames and George Nelson made color an essential part of their designs.

Current production Architectural Pottery pieces by Vessel USA - both white and colored -- are available for purchase through the Museum of California Design’s on-line DESiGN STORE at

“Ornament Is A Crime” was made possible through the lead sponsorship of deasy/penner&partners, Beverly Hills & Palm Springs; Pacific Union, Palm Springs; and Wright, Chicago, with additional sponsorship from Fat Chance, Los Angeles; Reform Gallery, Los Angeles; and Dolphin Promotions, Inc., Chicago


Garden fountains/sculptures,
c.1957 LaGardo Tackett,
Architectural Pottery,
Collection Museum of California Design
Photograph: Bob Lopez

Sand Jar / Jardiniere, c.1963
Marilyn Kay Austin,
Architectural Pottery earthenware
Photograph: Lorca Cohen


Architectural Pottery Catalog 64, 1964
Collection: Museum of California Design

Photograph: Uncredited


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JULY 14 - OCTOBER 31, 2004


   Mark: Winfield Pottery
   Plate modified by Tyrus Wong
   Porcelain, 17" diameter, c. 1945
   Collection of Tyrus Wong
   Photograph by Peter Brenner


Paintings by the Chinese-American artist Tyrus Wong have been exhibited at the Pasadena Art Institute, the Los Angeles Museum of Art (now the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1939, he won the Los Angeles Art Association’s first-prize purchase award judged by two of California’s most respected artists, Stanton Macdonald-Wright and Lorser Feitelson.

This is the first exhibition of the paintings Wong produced for the Winfield Pottery of Pasadena between about 1944 and 1950. His canvases were 48 plates, bowls and a teapot designed by Margaret Mears Gabriel (1888-1987), which were made in molds for nation-wide distribution. Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol and Ed Moses are among the artists who have created decorations for commercial ceramics, but Wong is apparently the only one to have decorated them entirely by his own hand: the other artists either produced paintings for staff decorators to copy or line drawings that could be applied as transfers. Thus this aspect of Wong’s oeuvre seems to occupy a unique place in the continuum between studio and commercial ceramics.


Wong has lived in Los Angeles since coming to the United States from Guangzhou (Canton), China, in 1919. In 1938 he created the scenic look for the Walt Disney Company’s film "Bambi." And, for Warner Bros., "Rebel Without a Cause," "Around the World in 80 Days" and "The Wild Bunch." While at Warner Bros. in the 1940s he worked at the Winfield Pottery evenings and Saturdays. Winfield sold Wong’s original artworks on porcelain at prominent department stores across the country -- including Bullocks Wilshire in Los Angeles, Neiman Marcus in Dallas and Marshall Field in Chicago. Wong also painted images for himself, his family and friends.

The exhibition consists of two sections: pieces Wong painted for commercial distribution and those he did for himself and friends. The commercial pieces include traditional subjects done in the monochromatic black ink style of painting that developed in China’s Sung Period (960-1279 AD), notably a series of horses in motion. Among the personal images are whimsical children’s subjects.

This is the first time that these works have been assembled in one place. Wong himself was very surprised by the display: "I’d certainly never seen them all together before," he said. Then he added, "It’s been so long [more than half a century], that I don’t even remember doing some of them."


Exhibition Catalog

At the Opening


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