Design Week: Where did the idea for the new website come from and how long have you been working on it?
Eliza Brownjohn: I have wanted to do a Robert Brownjohn website for a long time. After the Design Museum ‘s 2005 Brownjohn exhibition and the MoMA ‘s acquisition of 226 Brownjohn works for its collection, there was such a buzz that I realised I had to do it.
The site has taken me four long intense months to put together (with nearly 1,000 images!) but now it is finally done.
DW: Who worked on the design of the new site and what were you trying to create?
EB: First of all I designed the website myself – it was a momentous task but I was the only one that could do it because I knew his work so intimately. I had a vision that I wanted it to be pure, full of as much work as possible and inspirational.
I really wanted to capture the essence of BJ’s life and work in one place.
DW: How easy was it to pull together the Brownjohn archive for the new site?
EB: I have been travelling throughout the world for the last 40 years with the entire Brownjohn archives in metal trunks!
When BJ died in 1970 I became the gatekeeper of his work and I have taken that responsibility very seriously ever since.
DW: What new or rarely seen pieces of work are on the site?
EB: There is so much of his early work from New York in the 1950’s that no one has ever seen – I just never realised how much he had produced in those years. They are all on the site.
DW: Do you have a favourite piece?
EB: One of my favourite pieces is the BJ Peace poster – simple and powerful – I love that one. It is also one of the MoMA’s favourites.
DW: What do you think Robert Brownjohn’s work means to designers today and can you see his influence in contemporary work?
EB: I can only tell you that over the years I have had so many designers say how inspirational Brownjohn has been in their work and how it has freed them to think completely out of the box.
I see his influence on design almost every day.
The Robert Brownjohn website is at robertbrownjohn.com.
There are four limited-edition prints of Brownjohn’s work available on the site’s shop: BJ Peace poster, Obsession and Fantasy poster and Let it Bleed Rolling Stones back and front cover. These have not been produced since the 60s and they are made from Brownjohn’s original artwork.