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Gordon Russell (designer)

  (Redirected from Sydney Gordon Russell)

A dressing table designed by the Utility Design Panel c. 1943. Made by Heal & Son, 1947. Oak.

Sir (Sydney) Gordon Russell, CBE, MC, RDI, FSIA (20 May 1892 – 7 October 1980) was an English designer, craftsman and educationist.


Gordon Russell was born in Cricklewood, London to Sydney Bolton and Elizabeth Russell. His father was a clerk in a bank but was later offered a job in George Allsop in Burton-on-Trent, the brewers. The family moved to live in Repton. When Gordon was twelve years old his father bought the Lygon Arms Inn in Broadway Worcestershire and the family moved again to live in the hotel. Gordon went to the Grammar School at the nearby village at Chipping Campden. In 1921 Gordon married Toni Denning. In 1925 he bought a one-and-a-half acre plot on Dover's Hill overlooking Chipping Campden where they built their home, named Kingcombe. They lived at Kingcombe for the rest of their lives, extending it several times over the years, and raised their four children there.[1]


He came under the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement from 1904 after his father had moved to Broadway in the Cotswolds to be hotelier at the Lygon Arms, through the Guild of Handicraft, the community of metalworkers, enamellers, wood carvers, furniture makers, and printers brought in 1902 by C. R. Ashbee from east London to Chipping Campden.

Following service as an officer in World War I, for which he was awarded the Military Cross in 1918,[2][3] he became a furniture maker and designer. In 1925 Russell won a Gold Medal at the Paris Exhibition with a cabinet, with internal drawers lined with boxwood, ebony and laburnum, and valued in 2013 at £50,000 to £60,000.[4] He designed the "Stow" range of furniture in the mid 1920s.[5][6][7]

During World War II he was instrumental in developing utility furniture as Chairman of the government's Utility Furniture Design Panel. In 1943 he became Chairman of the Utility Design Panel.[8] In 1947 Gordon Russell became director of the Council of Industrial Design (COID) (later renamed the Design Council. He became the first chairman of the Crafts Council.

Notable designs by Russell include chairs for the re-built Coventry Cathedral. His brother Richard Drew Russell was also a designer.

He was awarded a knighthood in 1955 for services to design. He wrote a number of books on furniture, including Furniture (1947),[9] How to Buy Furniture (1947),[10] The Story of Furniture (1947, with Jacques Groag, later published as Looking at Furniture (1953, 1964)).[11][12] In 1968 he published his autobiography, Designer's Trade.[13]

Portrait bust of Sir Gordon RussellEdit

Gordon Russell sat for sculptor Alan Thornhill for a portrait[14] in clay. The correspondence file relating to the Russell portrait bust is held in the archive[15] of the Henry Moore Foundation's Henry Moore Institute in Leeds and the terracotta remains in the collection of the artist. A Bronze is in the collection of the Gordon Russell Museum[16] in Broadway, Worcestershire.

References and sourcesEdit

  1. ^ Designer's Trade An Autobiography, Gordon Russell, George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1968
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ "Russell, Sir (Sydney) Gordon (1892–1980), designer and craftsman - Oxford Dictionary of National Biography".
  4. ^ "Cheltenham Town Hall 2". Antiques Roadshow. Series 35. Episode 19. 14 April 2013. BBC Television. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  5. ^ Myerson, Jeremy (1992). Gordon Russell: Designer of Furniture 1892–1992. London: Design Council.
  6. ^ Baynes, Ken; Baynes, Kate (1981). Gordon Russell. London: Design Council.
  7. ^ Andrews, John (2005). Arts and Crafts Furniture. Woodbridge, UK: Antique Collector's Club. ISBN 1 85149 483 9.
  8. ^ Woodham, Jonathan M. (1997) Twentieth-Century Design. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 118. ISBN 9780192842046
  9. ^ Russell, Gordon (1947). Furniture. West Drayton (UK): Penguin Books.
  10. ^ Russell, Gordon (1947). How to Buy Furniture. London: Council of Industrial Design.
  11. ^ Russell, Gordon; Groag, Jacques (1947). The Story of Furniture. West Drayton (UK): Penguin Books (Puffin).
  12. ^ Russell, Gordon (1953). Looking at Furniture. London: L. Humphries.
  13. ^ Russell, Gordon (1968). Designer's Trade: An Autobiography. London: Allen & Unwin.
  14. ^ portrait head of Sir Gordon Russell image of sculpture
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 January 2009. Retrieved 10 August 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) HMI Archive
  16. ^ "Gordon Russell Design Museum". Gordon Russell Design Museum.

External linksEdit