Brian O’Rorke (1901 – 1974) New Zealand architect and interior designer

Brian O’Rorke on the left, photographed with Milner Gray. Design Council Archive, University of Brighton Design Archives.
Brian O’Rorke on the left, photographed with Milner Gray. Design Council Archive, University of Brighton Design Archives.

Brian O’Rorke was a New Zealand architect and interior designer. He was professionally active in Britain. 

Education

He studied architecture, Cambridge University and Architectural Association, London. His style was uncompromisingly Modern. The 1932 music room he designed for Mrs Robert Solomon in London included a swirl-motif rug by Marion Dorn. 

Ship architecture and interior design

0’Rorke established a small studio specialising in interior design, particularly for ships, aircraft, and trains. In the 1930s, he designed interiors for oceanliners 1935 Orion (commissioned by Colin Anderson) and Orcades, which broke traditional modes. The Orcades interior consisted of chromium furniture and ‘modern’ finish. In his work on the “Orion”, he entirely departed from the tradition of disguising the ship interior with architectural detail borrowed from land sources. Instead, he emphasised the ship’s basic forms and lines with impressive decorative materials used with charm and taste. He executed the interior for other ships of the Orient Line and, in 1946, the Vickers Viking. 

His ability to produce clean, functional, modern interiors in a restricted area led O’Rorke to receive a commission for the L.M.S.’ Royal’ train saloon in 1938. 

Several of O’Rorke’s designs for the interior of the Orion
Several of O’Rorke’s designs for the interior of the Orion

Appointments

O’Rorke was appointed Royal Designer for Industry (R.D.I.) by the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (R.S.A.) the following year for his interior decoration, mainly ships. Therefore, it is not surprising that he took over the chair when Sir Colin Anderson spoke at the R.S.A. on ‘The interior design of passenger ships’ (1966). 

O’Rorke also served as a judge for the furniture section of the R.S.A. Industrial Art Bursaries Competition (1946) was one of the R.D.I. judges for the first Design Center ‘Designs of the Year’ awards in 1957. O’Rorke was one of the members of the R.D.I. Faculty to make an official visit to the Enterprise Scotland exhibition and various manufacturing plants in the area. 

In his 1962 talk to the R.S.A. on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Faculty’s founding, O’Rorke said that, over the twenty-five year period, ‘good design has penetrated… into the world of industry and commerce to a considerable degree.’ Designers were now called upon to work in new fields, and the challenge for the future ‘would be to face up to the dangers and appreciate the potential for good in the age of mass-production machines.’ He also expressed concern about design education. 

Other works

He was the architect for the 1947 Orient Steam Navigation building in Sydney. He designed several houses, including a semi-detached house complex and the 1933-36 Ashcombe Tower for Major Ralph Rayner. O’Rorke and F.H.K. Henrion created The Natural Scene and the Country (natural history) pavilion at the 1951 London’ Festival of Britain.’ 

Sources

Brian O’Rorke. Royal Designers for Industry Britain Can Make It 1946. https://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/royaldesigners/2016/06/06/brian-ororke/.

THE NEW ORIENT LINER, “ORCADES.” (1937, November 24). Construction and Real Estate Journal (Sydney, N.S.W.: 1930 – 1938), p. 8. Retrieved February 4, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article222924072

SHIP ARCHITECTURE (1937, November 24). Construction and Real Estate Journal (Sydney, N.S.W.: 1930 – 1938), p. 8. Retrieved February 4, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article222924096

More Interior Designers

  • Laura Ashley (1926 – 1988) British fabric and fashion designer

    Laura Ashley (1926 – 1988) British fabric and fashion designer

    Laura Ashley was one of the first British designers to experiment with the concept of lifestyle marketing. Her romantic vision of nineteenth-century rural life, adapted to modern domestic realities, inspired a generation of middle-class Britons who returned to country life in the 1960s and 1970s.Read More →

  • Vico Magistretti (1920 – 2006) Italian architect/designer

    Vico Magistretti (1920 – 2006) Italian architect/designer

    In 1920 Vico Magistretti was born in Milan, Italy. First recognition of his work came in 1948, at the 8th Triennale. He started designing for Cassina in 1960, and from that date on his signature is to be found on many products.Read More →

  • Maurice Matet (b.1903) French Decorator and furniture designer

    Maurice Matet (b.1903) French Decorator and furniture designer

    eginning in 1923. He occasionally cooperated with Etienne Kohlmann and Dubard. He became a professor at the Ecole des Arts Appliqués in Paris in c1930. After WWII, he continued to design furniture, creating models in metal and glass and silver tableware, with radically Modern lines.Read More →

  • Kwok Hoi Chan (1939 – 1987) Chinese architect and interior designer

    Kwok Hoi Chan  (1939 – 1987) Chinese architect and interior designer

    Interior design projects included furniture for Air India and the IBM offices in Hong Kong. 1966-68, Chan worked in a design studio, London, contributing to the interiors of the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth II. He subsequently, designed for Spectrum, the Netherlands. Read More →

  • George Sheringham (1884 – 1937) British Interior and Textile designer

    George Sheringham (1884 – 1937) British Interior and Textile designer

    He was born in London and had a brother, Hugh, an Angling Editor of The Field. He attended the King’s School, Gloucester, the Slade School of Fine Art (1899–1901), and the Sorbonne, Paris (1904–1906).Read More →

  • Jean Perzel (1892 – 1986) Austrian Lighting Designer

    Jean Perzel (1892 – 1986) Austrian Lighting Designer

    He began painting on glass at a young age and worked as a stained glass artist in Munich. He worked in many workshops in Paris starting in 1919, including Jacques Gruber’s. He saw that electric illumination was nothing more than a transformation of oil lamps and candlesticks. He made his first lamps in the style of Romanesque church windows. Read More →

  • Eugene Printz (1889 – 1948) French Decorator and furniture designer

    Eugene Printz (1889 – 1948) French Decorator and furniture designer

    He set up his workshop at 12 rue Saint-Bernard in Paris, where he produced cabinets, rugs, drawings, and paintings. In 1930, he rendered the interior scheme of the boudoir of the Princesse de la Tour d’Auvergne in the Château de Grosbois, the private office of Jeanne Lanvin, the reception salon of Field Marshal Lyautey, and the arrangement of the Musée de la France d’Outre-Mer on the occasion of the 1931 Paris ‘Exposition Coloniale. Read More →

  • Hilton McConnico (1943 – 2018) American interior and furniture designer

    Hilton McConnico (1943 – 2018) American interior and furniture designer

    Hilton McConnico ( 1943 – 2018) was American furniture and interior designer. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He worked professionally in Paris.Read More →

  • Tony Selmersheim (1871 – 1971) French architect and decorator

    Tony Selmersheim (1871 – 1971) French architect and decorator

    Initially, he collaborated with architect Charles Plumet. Tony and Pierre Selmersheim worked together on furniture, furnishings, lighting, and the interior design of various structures.Read More →

  • Winold Reiss (1886-1953) German artist and designer

    Winold Reiss (1886-1953) German artist and designer

    Influenced by the international modern art movements that had recently swept across Europe, he blended cubism, which used geometric shapes to create abstract images, and fauvism, which favoured the use of bold colours to suggest shapes, with interest in ethnography to create a unique style of portraiture that sought to reveal the subject more thoroughly than the simple rendering of physical features.Read More →

  • Rinaldo Petrini ( b. 1931) Italian teacher and designer

    Rinaldo Petrini ( b. 1931) Italian teacher and designer

    1954, LDV Polytechnic, Alessandria, United Arab Emirates, diploma in architecture. 1968 – Master of Science, University of Tennessee. Doctor es Lettres, Paris, LaSorbonne, 1974. Ecole des Hautes Etudes, Paris, 1973–1974. Postgraduate architectural restoration, Ecole des Hautes Etudes, Paris, 1973–1974.Read More →

  • Anton Grot (1884 – 1974) Polish Art Director

    Anton Grot (1884 – 1974) Polish Art Director

    Antoni Franciszek Groszewski was born in Kiebasin, Poland, and passed away in Stanton, California. He majored in interior decoration, illustration, and design at the Krakow art academy and a technical school in Königsberg, Germany. In 1909, he changed his name and moved to the United States.Read More →

  • Arttu Brummer (1891 – 1951) Finnish interior and glassware designer

    Arttu Brummer (1891 – 1951) Finnish interior and glassware designer

    Arttu Brummer was a Finnish interior and glassware designer. Brummer set up his own interior design office in 1913. Read More →

  • Preben Fabricis (1931 – 1984) Danish furniture and interior designer

    Preben Fabricis (1931 – 1984) Danish furniture and interior designer

    In 1952, he worked as a cabinetmaker for Finn Juhl, designing chairs for the United Nations headquarters in New York. He was a collaborator with Jørgen Kasthol from 1962 to 1970. He taught furniture design at Skolen for Boligindretning since 1967. In 1968, he opened his own officRead More →

  • Jean-Michel Frank (1895 – 1941) French Interior Designer

    Jean-Michel Frank (1895 – 1941) French Interior Designer

    After World War I, he worked as a cabinetmaker at Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann’s studio in Paris, where he met decorator Adolphe Chanaux, who had collaborated with André Groult and Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann on the 1925 Paris ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes.’ Read More →

  • Brian O’Rorke (1901 – 1974) New Zealand architect and interior designer

    Brian O’Rorke (1901 – 1974) New Zealand architect and interior designer

    Brian O’Rorke was a New Zealand architect and interior designer. He was professionally active in Britain. He studied architecture, Cambridge University and Architectural Association, London. His style was uncompromisingly Modern. The 1932 music room he designed for Mrs Robert Solomon in London included a swirl-motif rug by Marion Dorn. Read More →

  • Joseph-André Motte (1925 – 2013) French Furniture & Interior Designer

    Joseph-André Motte (1925 – 2013) French Furniture & Interior Designer

    Joseph-André Motte ranks as the most influential and innovative figures of post-war French design. Two careers Furniture & Interior Designer.Read More →

  • Yki Nummi (1925 – 1984) Finnish Interior Designer & Colourist

    Yki Nummi (1925 – 1984) Finnish Interior Designer & Colourist

    The versatile designer Yki Nummi (1925-1984) was born in China to a missionary family. He studied in Finland and after graduating from the University of Art and Design Helsinki, he was hired as a lamp designer for Orno. His most famous products are the timeless icons Modern Art table lamp and Skyflier pendant lamp.Read More →

  • Eugenia Errazuriz (1860 to 1951 ) a woman of taste and social prestige

    Eugenia Errazuriz (1860 to 1951 ) a woman of taste and social prestige

    Eugenia Errazuriz was a Chilean society hostess. She was born in Huici Chile and was active in Paris and London. In 1880, she married the wealthy landscape painter José Thomas Errazuriz and settled in Paris.Read More →

  • Shiro Kuramata (1934 – 1991) Japanese furniture and interior designer

    Shiro Kuramata (1934 – 1991) Japanese furniture and interior designer

    He has created almost 300 stores and restaurants since 1965. Despite designing furniture for Aoshima and Ishimaru, he is best known for his 1970 Furniture in Irregular Forms collection for Fijiko. Cappellini International Interiors’ 1970 wavy 18-drawer chests garnered him accolades while exhibiting his odd and surreal sense of humour.Read More →

  • Toshiyuki Kita (b.1942) Japanese Furniture and Interior Designer

    Toshiyuki Kita  (b.1942) Japanese Furniture and Interior Designer

    He set up his own design office in Osaka in 1964; in 1969, he began designing furniture for Italian and Japanese firms; he collaborated with Silvio Coppola, Giotto Stoppino, and Bepi Fiori for Bernini. He is best known for the 1980 Wink articulated armchair produced by Cassina, which took four years to design; Read More →

  • Andrée Putnam (1925 – 2013) French Interior Designer

    Andrée Putnam (1925 – 2013) French Interior Designer

    Andrée Putman was a French interior designer, furniture designer, and entrepreneur. She was born in Paris. Putman was probably best known internationally for her black and white palette, illustrated by the 1985 interior of Morgans Hotel in New York. It was commissioned by the entrepreneurs Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell.Read More →

  • Henry Van de Velde (1863 – 1957) Belgian artist, architect, interior designer

    Henry Van de Velde (1863 – 1957) Belgian artist, architect, interior designer

    Henry van de Velde was a Belgian architect, industrial designer, painter and art critic. He worked in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.Read More →

  • Benedikt Bolza – Italian Nobleman, Architect, Interior Designer

    Benedikt Bolza – Italian Nobleman, Architect, Interior Designer

    Trained as an architect in London, he and a team of 120 transform centuries-old stone ruins into exquisite dwellings at Castello di Reschio, a 3,000-acre private community in Umbria, Italy, on land originally purchased by his parents.Read More →

  • André Mare (1885 – 1932) french painter, decorator and furniture designer

    André Mare (1885 – 1932) french painter, decorator and furniture designer

    Mare André was a french painter, decorator and furniture designer. He studied painting, at the Academie Julian, Paris. Read More →

  • Emanuel Margold – Austrian Architect, Interior Designer, Ceramicist

    Emanuel Margold – Austrian Architect, Interior Designer, Ceramicist

    He was a prolific designer of furniture, glass, and porcelain in Darmstadt.Read More →

  • Margareta Aberg (b.1929) Swedish Designer

    Margareta Aberg (b.1929) Swedish Designer

    In 1956, she opened her own architecture studio with her husband Rolf Aberg; designed the Salabim cupboard of 1986 produced by Swedfun (Sweden). She specialized in interior architecture and designed hospitals, hotels, and schools including the Bracke Osterjard Hospital, Gothenburg, for handicapped children.Read More →

  • Oliver Messel (1904 – 1978) British theatre, film and interior designer

    Oliver Messel (1904 – 1978) British theatre, film and interior designer

    He met Rex Whistler at the Slade, with whom he began making papier-maché masks. These piqued the interest of Sergei Diaghilev, who commissioned Messel to create masks for the Ballets Russes production Zéphyre et Flore in 1925. For his 1928 play This Year of Grace, Noel Coward commissioned sets and costumes.Read More →

  • Jacques Hitier (1917 – 1999) French furniture designer

    Jacques Hitier (1917 – 1999) French furniture designer

    He specialised in developing industrial furniture for public contexts like schools and government buildings after WWII. He exhibited his whole body of work at both the Salon des Artistes Décorateurs and the Salon des Arts Ménagers. Hitier also created luxury and high-end home furnishings.Read More →

  • Malvine Tcherniak (1894 – 1968) French/Russian Decorator

    Malvine Tcherniak (1894 – 1968) French/Russian Decorator

    In the 1920s, she designed ceramics, textiles and wallpaper and domestic items for the Primavera department store of the Au Printemps department store, Paris.Read More →

  • Designer chooses humble life in Shanghai – SHINE News

    Designer chooses humble life in Shanghai – SHINE News

    Aldo Cibic, a significant figure in the history of Italian design for over 40 years,Read More →

  • Ruby Ross Wood (1881 – 1950) American Interior Designer

    Ruby Ross Wood (1881 – 1950) American Interior Designer

    Wood settled in New York and began writing an agricultural journal. She started working as a freelance writer and worked as a ghostwriter for interior designer Elsie de Wolfe. Read More →

  • Sir Terence Conran (1931 – 2020) British Interior Designer

    Sir Terence Conran (1931 – 2020) British Interior Designer

    From cl950, he worked for Rayon Centre, London, and, 1951— 52, as an interior designer for Dennis Lennon; designed 1955 ‘The Orrery’ coffee-bar, London in the late 1950s, as a freelance designer. Read More →

  • Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886 – 1969) German architect and designer

    Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886 – 1969) German architect and designer

    Between 1905 and 1907, he worked as an apprentice to architect and furniture designer Bruno Paul in Berlin, where he studied wooden furniture design. He created furniture for all of his early homes, including the Werner residence.Read More →

  • Gabriel Englinger (1898 – 1983) French artist, decorator, furniture designer

    Gabriel Englinger (1898 – 1983) French artist, decorator, furniture designer

    He worked in the Galeries Lafayette department store’s La Maitrise design workshop from 1922 to 1928. At the same time, he worked for Cornille as a designer and furniture builder. Studio Abran created a 1928 boudoir and a 1929 work cabinet and smoking stand, among other ensembles. Read More →

  • Jean Adnet (1900 – 1995) French designer

    Jean Adnet (1900 – 1995) French designer

    In 1928, Jean Adnet became director of the window-display department at Galeries Lafayette, where, in 1922, brother Jacques Adnet became director of its La Maitrise decorating studio; they collaborated under the name ‘JJ Adnet.Read More →

  • A new era for African Designer Donald Nxumalo

    A new era for African Designer Donald Nxumalo

    Donald Nxumalo, one of the bright lights of the 2018 Design Joburg, has announced the renaming of his company. Previously known as DNX, Donald Nxumalo will now be known simply as Donald Nxumalo. Donald Nxumalo will be the brand’s name and the monogram will be DNX. The explanation for this shift is that people are more attracted to the man’s persona and personality. This change has improved Donald’s location and corresponds to the type of job he does. It exemplifies the “personal touch” that people adore and valueRead More →

  • Sibyl Colefax (1875 – 1950) British collector and interior designer

    Sibyl Colefax (1875 – 1950) British collector and interior designer

    At Onslow Square and Argyll House, she opened salons. Lady Oxford, Lady Asquith, Lady Cunard, and Lady Ottoline Morrell were her rivals as hostess. She continued to entertain on a small scale at her house, Lord North Street, London, after her husband Arthur Colefax died in 1936.Read More →

  • Michel Dufet (1888 – 1985) French interior designer & writer

    Michel Dufet (1888 – 1985) French interior designer & writer

    He attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris to study painting and architecture. In 1913, he founded the MAM (Mobilier Artistique Moderne) decorating workshop at 3 Avenue de l’Opéra in Paris, producing modern furniture, wallpaper, fabrics, and lighting.Read More →

  • Claude Flight( 1881 – 1955) British artist and decorator

    Claude Flight( 1881 – 1955) British artist and decorator

    Flight is best known for establishing the linocut method of printmaking. He felt by promoting the use of cheap and easily obtained new material. He was making it possible for the masses to be exposed to art. He saw in it the potentiality of a truly democratic art form.Read More →

You may be interested in

Vasilii Dmitrievich Ermilov (1884-1968) Russian architect and book set designer – Encyclopedia of Design

Vasilii Dmitrievich Ermilov (1884-4968), a Russian architect, book and set designer, interior designer, and illustrator. He was born in Kharkov (now Ukraine). Ermilov Vasily Dmitrievich 1894-1968 Painter, graphic artist, architect, scene-designer, master of decorative and applied arts. Vasily Ermilov was born to a family of a tailor. He studied at the parish school.

Eugene Schoen (1880 – 1957) was an American architect and designer

Eugene Schoen (1880 – 1957) was an American architect and designer. He was born and professionally active in New York. He was one of the few American born designers during the 20s and 30s to achieve success. He studied architecture, Columbia University, New York, to 1901; Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna, under Otto Wagner and others.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.