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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Architectural Pottery

Max Lawrence (1911-2010) and his wife Rita Milaw Lawrence (1919-1999) founded Architectural Pottery in 1950 to produce and market the pottery designed by LaGardo Tackett, a professor at the California School of Art, and his students John Follis, Rex Goode and others.

Several pieces from the company's first catalogue were included the 1951 Good Design exhibit at New York's Museum of Modern Art. Architectural Pottery featured graceful, geometrically-shaped vessels that were usually unornamented and quite large. Typical shapes were cylinders, cones, bullets, gourds and totems.

Architects such as John Lautner and Richard Neutra ordered pieces from Architectural Pottery for their modernist houses, and well-known mid-century photographer Julius Shulman featured their products in almost every picture he took.

"Their role in establishing the unique look of mid-century California design can't be overstated. They were key," Wendy Kaplan, curator and head of decorative art and design at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, said of the Lawrences.

A fire at the Manhattan Beach manufacturing plant led the Lawrences to shut down the business in 1985, but their legacy has endured. "Whenever we see a white cylinder planted with a tree or flowers inside or outside an office building or a bank, and now quite often at gasoline stations, all of that is the heritage of Architectural Pottery," said Bill Stern, executive director of the Los Angeles-based Museum of California Design.

From and

Style FS by John Follis, 1950s

Rex Goode and John Follis, 1950s

L-20 by Malcolm Leland, 1950s

T-102 by LaGardo Tackett, 1950s

G-99 by Goode and Follis, 1955

FH-507 by Goode and Follis, 1959

IN-3 by Tackett, 1960

SC-04 by Tackett, 1961

Marilyn Kay Austin, 1964



  1. Love 'em. Thought of those as a mass marketed trend not as a piece of design.

  2. Wowee! All of these are incredible. I just love pottery.

  3. @DearHelenHartman: Before I started writing this blog, I never thought much about the design process. I guess there's someone at a drawing board sketching even the most tacky, mass-produced trinkets from China...LOL

  4. @Rhan: Aren't they wonderful? The company had a branch called Architectural Fiberglass, which sounds like another post in the making.