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Paperchase in Tottenham Court Road celebrates 50th birthday

Founder Eddie Pond was an unsung genius of British graphic art

11 May, 2018 — By The Xtra Diary

Eddie Pond

You can, of course, buy birthday cards there, so it would be fitting that you pop into Paperchase, the art and stationery shop in Tottenham Court Road, to wish the firm a happy 50th birthday.

The flagship store is marking five decades in the West End by hosting a celebration on Thursday May 31 and will have music, demonstrations, food and drink.

And while we all know Paperchase, its brand has stretched out across the UK, very little is known about the genius who was behind it.

Eddie Pond, who set up Paperchase with fellow art student Judith Cash in 1968, is a giant in British design, but he is not quite the household name he should be.

Eddie, born in 1929, was from Hackney. He managed to do something rare in the art world, marry a brilliant talent for aesthetics with an astute business brain. He studied at South East Essex Technical College and School of Art, and trained in textiles and silk screen printing. He then headed to the Royal College of Art and was awarded a silver medal for his dissertation. Before he set up Paperchase, he worked for a firm called Wardle, which made fabrics and then turned his eye to creating wallpapers for the Wallpaper Manufacturers’ Association. From there, he founded Paperchase.

 

Some examples of Eddie’s work

Central St Martins art historian and lecturer Paul Rennart, who also runs the art shop Rennie’s Seaside Modern, based in Folkestone, is a big Eddie Pond fan.

“I have always been interested in posters and in the 1980s I began noticing these amazing pieces by an Edward Pond,” he recalls.“I’d seen them on trains and I always admired them. They felt like a link to the golden age of British graphic art.”

He had a few posters in his art shop and one day a man was looking through the racks and exclaimed: “You have an Edward Pond!”

Paul says: “I replied ‘Yes, he was a genius’, to which he said: ‘He was my father’.”

A few weeks later, he returned with a scrapbook that charted Eddie’s career. And what a career it is. “Eddie is such an important figure in British design,” says Paul. “He is on a level with someone like

Terence Conran, but isn’t as well known as he didn’t put his name above the shop door. He re- invented wallpaper in the 1960s, was a brilliant poster-maker and designer. He was an astute businessman and extraordinary designer.”

When he established Paperchase, it addressed the growing demand for art and design products and, as it grew, Eddie set up his own design consultancy in 1976.

Clients included Boots the Chemist, Ford Motor Company and the National Trust. For two years, from 1981, he was president of the Chartered Society of Designers and later chairman of the Design and Industries Association, and his legacy lives on through the millions of people who pop in to buy art materials and stationery from the shop that Eddie built.

For more examples of Eddie’s work, see www.rennart.co.uk

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