Dorrit Dekk Archive

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive comprises primarily visual materials, in many cases finished work, but in some cases work in progress or original drawings for illustrations. It documents Dekk's design work across graphic design, advertising and retail, display and exhibitions design, murals, book and magazine illustration and cover design. Graphics and advertising clients include P&O, Air France, Schweppes and the Post Office Savings Bank, while the display work includes retail display as well as exhibition stands, including those for various travel companies. As well as the mural for the Festival of Britain Land Travelling exhibition, there are murals designed for Trust House Forte. Work illustrating a number of magazine articles is represented, as well as covers designed for Tatler and for a number of books, including for W H Allen.

The archive also includes also includes examples and documentation of her 'personality portraits', a collage technique she used for a number of depictions of famous individuals. The visual materials are supplemented by a small group of presscuttings from various stages of her career, as well as a few more personal items such as business notices, and her membership of the Society of Industrial Artists, and information about her work in various public collections and referenced in online blogs. Some material is in reproduction (printouts of colour scans)

Administrative / Biographical History

Dorrit Dekk was a graphic designer and artist. Born Dorothy Karoline Furhmann, she was always known as Dorrit, and came up with the surname Dekk while working for the Central Office of Information in London in the 1940s, based on her initials DKK (she had married the physicist Leonard Klatzow in 1940, although he died following a plane crash in 1942).

Dekk was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, in 1917 and moved to Austria with her mother at the age of four. Her father, a textile designer, remained in Brno and later died at Auschwitz. Dekk began to study textile design at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Vienna in 1936, but after the Anschluss in 1938 she decided to leave the country. Her professor, Otto Niedermoser, arranged a scholarship for her at the Reimann School of commercial art in London, which had recently relocated itself from Berlin. There she moved from studying theatre design to display and commercial design, on the advice of her teachers. The Reimann School itself was forced to close in 1940. Dekk then joined the Womens Royal Naval Service.

After the war, Dekk worked for the Central Office of Information under Reginald Mount and Eileen Evans, who she knew from the Reimann School. Her work focussed on public information campaigns. In 1948 she met the exhibition designer Richard Levin, who brought her in to work on the Land Travelling Exhibition which formed part of the Festival of Britain in 1951. Dekk designed a celebrated mural and a stand for the People at Play section.

Around 1949-1950, she set up her own business, and had a long and successful career working for a range of high profile clients including London Transport, British Rail, Post Office Savings Bank and P&O. She also designed covers for Penguin Books and 'Tatler' magazine. She was made a Fellow of the Society of Industrial Artists in 1956.

Following her marriage to Kurt Epstein in 1968, she concentrated more on fine art, working in paint, printmaking and collage, and exhibiting her work. She died in 2014.

Conditions Governing Access

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

Acquisition Information

Deposited by the Dekk estate in 2015

Archivist's Note

Record created by Sue Breakell

Conditions Governing Use

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