John Barnes, product designer : papers

Scope and Content

Registers of design, illustrated with pencil sketches, (1946-1980); photographs of products including scientific instruments, electrical appliances and sanitary ware, (ca.1947-1976); product literature, (1960-1984); press cuttings (1956-1989); research (1961-1969); qualifications and awards (1928-1974); other records (ca.1960-1989).

Administrative / Biographical History

John Barnes was born in Handsworth, Birmingham, in 1913, and educated at Birmingham College of Art. He was first employed by Serryn & Co., makers of gas fittings, and by Pilkington Bros., glass manufacturers. After military service during World War II, he joined a firm of industrial designers, Allen-Bowden Ltd., at Leamington Spa, where he worked from 1946 to 1968, eventually becoming managing director. In 1968 he set up his own company in Warwick, John Barnes Associates. He also taught at Birmingham College of Art as visiting tutor in product design. He was a versatile designer of scientific, electrical, sanitary and other products. His clients included Avery and Oertling; Hotpoint and Siemens; Ceramic Project Services; Spear and Jackson, Valor, GEC, Ford, Massey Fergusson and Raleigh. In his spare time he was a keen artist in watercolour and other media. John Barnes married Eileen Thurman in 1945 and had two children, Peter and Suzanne. They lived for most of their lives in Castle Bromwich and Harbury, where he died in 1989.

Conditions Governing Access

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only. Full details of access arrangements may be found here:

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Acquisition Information

Given by Suzanne Barnes, 2013.

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here:

Related Material

The Design Council slide collection held at Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University, includes slides of products designed by John Barnes.