OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA big thank you to Sam Hall and Jess Harvey of The Partners for their presentation to second year UCS Graphic Design and Graphic Illustration students last week. Thanks also go out to Sarah Habershon, Art Director at The Guardian, for her talk to students on the same day about The Guardian’s illustration commissioning process.

When Claire and I decided to rip out our old, dark wood fitted kitchen, over 10 years ago, it coincided with my Mum becoming an executor for an old family friend who had died. In being charged with clearing their bungalow in Clacton, my Mum didn’t know what to do with the stainless steel Paul kitchen units they had. As she pondered taking them to the local dump, Claire and I shouted, “we’ll have them”, and they’ve stood in our kitchen ever since. However, this post isn’t about how incredibly lucky we were to get hold of these domestic beauties, but about the brochures that came with them, for Fred, the family friend who had passed away, kept all paperwork for everything he had ever bought. As my Mum went through some of this immense amount of paperwork, she came across some wonderful brochures for the W. H. Paul kitchen units that he must have ordered before deciding to make a purchase. I found them again a couple of weeks ago, and thought I would share these relics of a time gone by. As brochures for such items become less and less common, largely due, I guess, to the Internet, and any that are still produced tend to have much less personality than these Mad Men-esque historical documents, they become a fascinating view on early 1960s domestic aspirations.

Below, the cover of one of the many brochures obtained before Fred decided on which units to go for:

The illustrations in this brochure are fantastic, and the graphic devices of blue rectangles and dotted yellow strips to break up the information on the page are evocative of early 1960s layout, pre-modernisms’ Helvetica & photography driven homogeneity, they fashionably signal that these items are desirable and contemporary statement pieces.

Celebrity endorsement isn’t just a recent phenomenon, as Vivien Leigh professes her love of a Paul kitchen.

Meet Mr W. H. Paul…

Plan your kitchen layout:

Brochure cover with metal ‘Metal Craft’ Paul logo attached.

Unfortunately the sink unit we got didn’t have this ‘secret’ Wash Wonder component.

Other Paul wonders available, the Warma and Warmette.

Looking somewhat different to the illustrations and photographs in the brochures; the sink unit in our kitchen. I wonder whether Vivien Leigh would approve?

The accompanying letters found with these brochures tell that Fred bought the units in 1961, directly from W. H. Paul Limited, in Breaston, Derby. 52 years later, the brochure claims are as good as their word, and there isn’t a trace of rust on any of them. This is lucky for us, as a quick search on Google doesn’t seem to tell whether W. H. Paul are still in business, so we may have had trouble claiming against the lifetime guarantee if there was a trace of rust on them.

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