Keith Murray

Keith Murray    Keith Murray (1892-1981) was one of the most important and influential designers in the field of glass, ceramics and metalware from 1920 through to the start of the WWII. He was one of the first designers to be honoured for his contributions to industry when he was awarded the Royal Designer for Industry in 1936.
    He trained and in fact worked as an architect until the late 1920s when the world depression forced him to look elsewhere for work. He was an enthusiastic collector of early glass and in 1931 attended the Exhibition of Swedish Industrial Art in London. He drew a few designs for table glass and sent them to Stevens and Williams of Brierley Hill. They used Murray as a free lance designer from 1932 until the war. "Keith Murray Glass" comprised over 1000 designs from vases to decanters to bathroom sets. Although Murray preferred purity of form, he recognized the need to design for large cutting rooms and created a wide variety of both traditional and severely modern pieces of glass. Once you learn to recognize Murray’s work, you can confirm your opinion by the etched or stamped signature on the bottom of the piece.
    In 1932 Murray was invited to Wedgwood and hired for two months a year to design a range of modern shapes for the factory. His very modern designs look very much like the work of a twentieth century architect. The pure forms designed by Murray were either plain or with a broad geometric fluting. The purity of form was underlined by the use of wonderful matte glazes – white, green, turquoise, straw and gray -- developed by Norman Wilson. Murray not only designed vases, book ends and inkwells, he also designed beer jugs and mugs. The mugs appear often in North America with university and other institutional crests. The pieces produced in 1933 have a full facsimile signature Keith Murray with Wedgwood, Made in England underneath. The KM monogram was introduced in 1934. In 1940 Wedgwood, Made in England was replaced with Wedgwood of Etruria and Barlaston.Piece by Keith Murray
    Murray’s work in metal was for the firm Mappin and Webb. His designs in silver and silver plate were modern and mostly geometric in from. Decoration was limited to turned rings which both enhanced the shapes and made the pieces easy to clean. Although he designed a variety of pieces they are rarely seen in North America.
    In 1936 Keith Murray was appointed architect in charge of designing the new Wedgwood factory at Barlaston. Following the war he returned to architecture and left the field of industrial design. Although Keith Murray worked as an industrial designer for a relatively short period, he must be considered one of the best of the twentieth century designers for his work in ceramics alone. Examples of his work have been selected for international exhibitions in Copenhagen, Milan, Brussels, Paris and the Medici Galleries in London. His work can also be seen in the permanent collections in the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Wedgwood Museum, the Royal Brierley Museum and the Glass Museum at Corning.

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