Willy de Majo Archive

  • Reference
      GB 1837 DES/WDM
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      20 linear m approx (to be sorted)

Scope and Content

The archive comprises correspondence pertaining to de Majo's work with design organisations including ICOGRADA; design materials, related papers and photographs representing a range of his work for various clients.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Maks de May was born in Vienna, to Yugoslav parents, in 1917. He was trained at the Vienna Handelsakademie and established his own design business in Belgrade in 1935. Moving to Britain in 1939, he joined the RAF in 1941 and after the war re-established his design practice in London. De Majo was appointed consultant designer to Miles-Martin Pen Co., Miles Aircraft and Henry Lunn Ltd., W & A Gilbey, John Millar & Sons and later, Charles Letts & Co. Ltd. He offered services in graphic, industrial and exhibition design, corporate identity, packaging, and product development, as his entry in 'Who's Who in Graphic Art' (1962) described, 'his designs range from visiting cards to interiors of airliners'. In 1951, Willy de Mayo acted as co-ordinating designer of the 'Farm and Factory' exhibition held in Northern Ireland as part of the Festival of Britain. His wife, Veronica, designed a striking outdoor mobile as part of the display: she also assisted with many other projects. De Majo made a presentation at the Aspen International Design Conference in 1953 and in 1963 became the founding president of the International Council of Graphic Design Associations. His ability to speak several languages made him an effective advocate, and he was Chairman of the Icograda Congress in Zurich (1964) and in Bled (1966). His role in representing the design profession at an international level was significant and in 1969 he was awarded the SIAD Design Medal for International Services to Design and the Profession. He received various awards from design associations overseas.

Willy de Majo MBE, MSIA died in 1994. A memorial event was held at the London offices of Pentagram, on behalf of the Society of Typographic Designers, the Chartered Society of Designers and in association with Icograda.


The archive comprises the following series:

WDM/1 Correspondence regarding work for various clients, and with design organisations such as ICOGRADA

WDM/2 Artwork and examples of design work

WDM/3 Photography, including b/w prints, colour transparencies and albums.

Access Information

Researchers wishing to consult the collection should make an appointment. Telephone 44 (0)1273 643217 or email designarchives@brighton.ac.uk

Acquisition Information

Transferred to the Design Archives by the de Majo family in 2009.

Archivist's Note

Fonds level record created by Catherine Moriarty in 2009, and extended by Sue Breakell in March 2010.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission must be sought to publish any material from the collection. Email designarchives@brighton.ac.uk

Appraisal Information

Currently under appraisal.

Related Material

There is material relating to Willy de Majo in other Design Archives collections as folllows:

Design Council Archive: Photographs, 79 prints of the Farm and Factory exhibition, 1951;

Assorted prints in Graphics/Packaging section relating to confectionery packaging for Millar & Sons Ltd. (see Design April 1957) and bottles and labelling for Clayton Brothers; various references within the main body of files, i.e. in relation to the Festival of Britain.

ICOGRADA and ICSID archives: Files of correspondence relating to de Majo's presidency 1963-1966

Files relating to the Icograda Foundation and his memorial service; numerous items in the 'visual archive' that comprise examples of his own works, or that of others that he donated to the archive/slide project at Bolton. Thirty examples of his diaries for Letts, 1975-78.

FHK Henrion Archive: Henrion and De Majo were closely involved in various projects that represented British design internationally - they both played significant roles in the inaugural meeting of Icograda in April 1963. Precise points of reference within the documentation of the Henrion Archive are to be established.

Willy de Majo's library was acquired by the National College of Art and Design, Dublin.