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Ray Marginson’s research archive on designer Richard Haughton James

Made by Marginson, Ray in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1940-1999.

In his book Design in Australia 1880-1970, curator and historian Michael Bogle notes that James ‘is a little known figure who occupied a major, if not central role in establishing industrial design as a profession in Australia’. (p.115) He was a founding member and the first President of the Australian Society of Designer for Industry, estab 1947-48.

This Richard Haughton James research archive, collated by Dr Ray Marginson (an associate of Richard Haughton James since the 1940s) for use in th...


Object No.


Physical Description

The collection includes posters, slides, publications, newspaper clippings, correspondence, sketches, Richard Haughton James's autobiography (manuscript, unpublished) and other documents. (preliminary list attached)



The documents in this archive relate to Richard Haughton James, however, the archive contains material produced by various makers.

Richard Haughton 'Jimmy' James, commercial artist, industrial designer, art and design educator, advertising executive and painter (born England 1906, arrived Sydney 1938, died 1985)
Draft biography: Anne-Marie Van de Ven, Curator 2005

In his book, Design in Australia 1880-1970, curator and historian Michael Bogle notes that James 'is a little known figure who occupied a major, if not central role in establishing industrial design as a profession in Australia'. (p.115)

While working in London in 1933, James organised an important early exhibition of international modern photography. In Sydney, Richard Haughton James established and ran the Design Centre (1939-1940) with Dahl and Geoffrey Collings whom he had earlier met in London. He stopped in Tahiti on route to Australia in 1938. During the War James designed Commonwealth Government war recruitment posters and worked with the Military Education Council. He moved to Melbourne after the war.

Throughout his career in Australia, James was passionately committed to raising people's understanding of modern art, design and photography, and is credited with helping to develop a more enlightened attitude to modern art and industrial design through articles, talks, radio broadcasts and publications and his association with organisations like the Australian Society of Designers for Industry, the National Gallery Society of Victoria, the Contemporary Art Society of NSW, the Victorian Artists Society, the Royal Society of Arts, London and the Australian Commercial and Industrial Artists Association (ACIAA).

In 1944, James was a witness for the defence in the trial against William Dobell and in the late 1940s, and editor of The Australian Artist.

With Melbourne designer Max Forbes, Richard Haughton James designed the Red Cross Modern Homes exhibition in 1949.The highlight of the exhibition was a model home designed by Robin Boyd called "The House of Tomorrow" with furniture specifically made for the house by Grant Featherston.

James and John Briggs set up the advertising agency Briggs and James in Melbourne in 1952. By the time he retired from advertising in the mid-sixties, James was Joint Managing Director of Briggs, Canny, James and Paramor, then the sixth largest advertising agency in Australia.

James retired from the advertising business in 1964 to devote himself to painting which he had started in 1962. He held exhibitions in Melbourne and Sydney between 1965 and 1966 and moved to live in Positano Italy in 1966, revisiting Australia several times. Retrospective exhibitions of his painting were held at the McClelland Galleries, Langwarrin and Gryphon Gallery, Melbourne State College in Victoria between 1979 and 1980.

In 2004, Richard Haughton James was inducted into the Paperpoint/Australian Graphic Design Association's Hall of Fame.

Richard Haughton James, 'There's a New Spirit in Photography', in Photography, a supplement to 'World's Press News', 1932 (p.12)
R Haughton James, article, Australia, National Journal, 1939 (to be sourced)
Richard Haughton James (Ed), The Australian Artist, published quarterly by Victorian Artists' Society, 1947-48
R Haughton James, Art Appreciation, F. W. Cheshire, Melbourne, 1948
Arts Festival of the Olympic Games, Melbourne, 1956
R Haughton James, Commercial Art, Arts in Australia series, Longman, Melbourne, 1963
Richard Haughton James, Communications in John Button (Ed), Look Here: Considering the Australian Environment, F. W. Cheshire Publishing Pty Ltd, 1968.
Herald, review of exhibition, 20 March 1980
Autobiography (unpublished), Second Thoughts (alternative titles, A Second Class Ticket Through Life, and Yours Sincerely Jimmy James), around 1981. Powerhouse Museum collection.
Geoffrey Caban, A Fine Line, Hale and Iremonger, Sydney 1983
Anne-Marie Van de Ven, 'Images of the Fifties: Design and Advertising' in Judith O'Callaghan (Ed), The Australian Dream: Design of the Fifties, Powerhouse Publishing, Sydney 1993
Michael Bogle, Design in Australia 1880-1970, Craftsman House, Sydney 1998
Max Robinson, 'Richard Haughton James' in Journeys 7th AGDA National Biennial Awards 2004 Compendium, Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA), Sydney 2004.


Marginson, Ray 1940-1999



This archive is a research collection built up over a decade or so during the 1980s by Dr Ray Marginson, an associate (since the 1940s) of Richard Haughton James (1906-1985) for the purpose of public addresses and publication.


Credit Line

Donated through the Australian Government Cultural Gifts Program by Dr Ray Marginson, 2005

Acquisition Date

20 May 2005

Cite this Object


Ray Marginson's research archive on designer Richard Haughton James 2017, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 18 March 2018, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Ray Marginson's research archive on designer Richard Haughton James |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=18 March 2018 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}


This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.

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