Monday, 18 February 2013

Biba Artist & Interior Designer Antony Little






          Biba Artist & Interior Designer Antony Little


Antony Little, artist and interior designer, first became associated with Biba in 1965 through his connection with Julie Hodgess, whom Barbara Hulanicki had commissioned to create a wallpaper design for her first shop in Abingdon Road. Upon moving to her second Biba premises in March of 1966, she once again hired the two designers to decorate the interior. Prior to this, Little had painted the facade of Michael Rainey's 'Hung On You' boutique in Cale Street, using the beautifully fluid Art Nouveau style which had been experiencing a major revival at this point in time. The continuation of this influence can also be seen in the window design created for Biba's Kensington Church Street shop, he painted the name above it in gold lettering on a black background, then decorated each window with gold leaf circles which served as portholes, surrounding them with an expanse of black Art Nouveau swirls. The facade proved to be incredibly popular, attracting not only the curiosity of every passer-by but also the attention of many photographers, who liked to use the windows as an interesting background feature in photo shoots. An adaptation of the design also became the new Biba logo, adorning bags and other printed materials. Although he continued to work with Biba in an interior design capacity on further projects, by 1968 Little had co-founded a wallpaper and fabric company with his brother in-law Peter Osborne. Together they opened a small showroom in Chelsea and subsequently produced some of the most striking hand-printed designs of the decade. For those of you with a penchant for interior design from this period and for those who would like to decorate accordingly, it will undoubtedly be welcome news that the firm of Osborne & Little are still active and that quite a lot of their early work is currently available again via their Vintage Collection. However, in 2006, after spending 38 years designing wallpapers and fabric, Antony Little sold his entire interest in the business to his partner in order to pursue other areas such as furniture design, painting and various architectural projects, and has no connection with the firm now, although his name still remains as a memento of the business that they built together.



Eleanor Powell Biba
Shop  manager Eleanor Powell, wearing a suit from Biba, the photograph was taken across the road from the second Biba outlet which was located at 19-21 Kensington Church Street.





                                Antony Little and his wife Jenny at their London home circa 1970. 
              


 
One of the Aubrey Beardsley inspired illustrations by Antony Little which was sold through Biba, Kensington Church St.



                               Hung On You, 22 Cale street. Window design by Antony Little, 1966.



The interior of Hung On You, 22 Cale Street. A blow-up of a fin de siècle style poster design for the shop by Antony Little decorates the wall in the background, the backdrop was also used on the cover of LIFE magazine in 1966, the same issue featured an article about the rise of the 'Swinging Revolution' in London.



A close up of the exterior at Biba, Empire House, 19-21 Kensington Church Street, W.8., Nouveau window design detail by Antony Little.




Shop manager Kim Wilmot photographed on the window seat at Biba in Kensington Church Street, one of the many photographs which used Antony Little's Nouveau window design as a backdrop.



                        Another Illustration by Antony Little, which sold through Biba, circa 1967.




Part of the conservatory area in the third Biba shop, at 124-126 Kensington High Street designed by Antony Little using stained glass windows which had been reclaimed from St Paul's school, (1969).



                                  Size, colour and price labels designed by Antony Little for Biba.
     




Osborne & Little's 'Chinese Dragon' wallpaper, designed in 1968 by Antony Little, inspired by the Royal Pavilion in Brighton.  You can view a fantastic example of the paper as it was intended to be seen here, and, if you have fallen in love with it, you will be happy to know that the paper is available again in six different colourways from various stockists, along with some other incredible wallpaper designs and matching textiles from this period, as part of their Vintage Collection


                            Packaging from stockings, with logo designed by Antony Little for Biba.




Yet another example of the Antony Little Nouveau Biba window design, used to frame a photograph on this occasion by Frank Habicht.



                       The cover of a Biba diary/notebook, 1967. Logo designed by Antony Little.


                                                   IMAGE CREDITS & LINKS
All images scanned by Sweet Jane from the following publications: The Biba Experience by Alwyn W Turner; 70s Style & Design by Dominic Lutyens & Kirsty Hislop; Boutique A 60s Cultural Phenomenon by Marnie Fogg, Look Magazine (1967) Photograph by Douglas Kirkland, and In the Sixties by Frank Habicht.  Antony Little at home with his wife Jenny (1970) Photographed by Tim Street-Porter. *Except for photo No.8 which is courtesy of the Alwyn Turner website via Antony Little. *Update 6/4/2015 Biba diary/notebook scan from The Biba Years 1963-1975.  View another one of my posts about Antony Little: Beardsley, Biba & Beyond. Visit The Osborne & Little Website. Read 'Inside the establishment's wild wallpaper purveyor': 50 Years of Osborne & Little. And finally, visit Julie's Restaurant & Champagne Bar which has been in business since 1969, owned by former interior designer Julie Hodgess*Update 26/2/2015: Listen to a radio interview with Julie Hodges on the Jo Good Show on BBC Radio London.
                                 
                

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for this informative blog. Anthony Little is much overlooked yet his work was fantastic and totally epitomised the times. Can I request a blog on Julie Hodges work...? :-)

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  2. Thanks Angie, my sentiments exactly!... I love his work, it's hard to believe that there is such a lack of readily available information about him online. You can indeed, i'm actually in the process of trying to put a blog about Julie Hodgess together at the moment, another wonderfully talented person who's work deserves far more recognition!

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  3. Hi - just discovered your blog through googling Biba. Not sure I am going to get much work done today now! just reading through it all now - love it!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Grace, glad that you're enjoying the posts, thanks a mil!

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