Anthony Mann 1927-2013

Design leader, typographer extraordinaire and educator passes away.

GDC Fellow Anthony Mann (1983), passed away April 19, 2013, in Ashreigney, Devon, England, following a brief illness. Born on October 18, 1927 in Rotherham, Lancashire, United Kingdom, he was the only child of Wing Commander James Mann and Olga (Newey) Mann. He lived in England and India throughout his childhood and early school years, returning to England and Manchester Grammar School after the war.

Tony attended the Central School of Art and Design, London, England, from 1949-51 studying Industrial Design, and following graduation, worked as a product designer for GEC, England. He then became a freelance exhibition designer in London from 1951-62. One of his most important design projects during this time was for a major exhibition during the celebrations for Nigeria's independence in 1960 for which he was the principal exhibition designer and supervisor for fabrication and installation.

He later also designed one of Libya’s International Trade Fair exhibitions in Tripoli. It was during this time, that he also became very interested in the modern Swiss design movement, particularly print typography. Tony moved to Canada in  1962 and worked for the CBC briefly before being recruited by Cooper and Beatty in Toronto, Canada’s leading typesetting and print company of the time. He worked there as creative director from 1962 to 1965, and then together with two other eminent Canadian graphic designers and GDC Fellows, Rolf Harder and Ernst Roch, and with Al Faux, an industrial designer, established Design Collaborative in 1965.

Tony helped to bring the International Communication Design style to Canada. During this time, he was responsible for overseeing the design of the Canadian Centennial symbol in 1967 (created by Stuart Ash FGDC). Other work during his time in Toronto included product design with Al Faux for Clairtone’s new G2 Stereo system and G-TV, both some of the  first modern Canadian designs for the media industry.

In 1967/68, he was invited to Nova Scotia to start a dedicated Design Division and established, along with two colleagues Frank Fox and Horst Deppe FGDC, a new Design Program at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax. The Program had its focus on Communication Design. He taught full time from 1967-76, and since he and his family moved back to England, Tony subsequently taught the fall term semester annually at the College from 1978 until his retirement from teaching in 1999.

During his teaching career at the College, he was periodically Head of Design Division, taught hundreds of young designers and was also instrumental in 1971 with Robert Parker and William Smith, in helping to establish one of Canada’s first Environmental Planning Programs at the College. Together with his wife Barbara and others, he was a founding member of the Ecology Action Centre in 1971, and today it remains as Nova Scotia’s vital grass roots environmental and sustainable solutions’ organization. In the 1970’s he began to explore his interests in craft based industry at a provincial and central government level. With a growing interest in folk traditions of toy making he later showed his own work at Studio 21 Fine Art in Halifax, one of Canada’s important contemporary galleries.  

In residence full time in Devon, England, Tony did advocacy work with the Devon Guild of Craftsmen to elevate craft to a serious undertaking, along with, but separate from art. His toy making and his automata (self operating toys) with their   unique aesthetics have become legendary in Canada, the United Kingdom and Europe where he exhibited in many galleries and shows including the Medici Gallery, London, the OXO Tower, and the Bethnal Green Toy Museum, London, and also in France. He was awarded honorary memberships of the Devon Guild of Craftsman and the British Toymakers Guild. Tony was also appointed a Fellow of the GDC in 1983, Canada’s voice and resource for the graphic design profession.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara Mann (nee Sweetman), son Timothy Mann, daughter in-law Jo (nee Scutt) Mann, and two grandchildren, Oliver James Mann and Hamish Anthony Mann, who live in Te Anau, Fiordland, New Zealand, and a cousin, Dianne Payne (nee Sargeant), living in England.

Interment will be in Devon, England.

A few comments from Tony’s colleagues follow.

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I feel that my work cannot be recognized without acknowledging the inspiration that was Anthony Mann. Tony was my mentor, and I am deeply saddened to hear that he has passed recently. I would like to take this time to show appreciation for the relationship and journey we shared together.

Having graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design in 1963, I started my career in Toronto as an intern at the typographic firm of Cooper & Beatty Limited under the direction of this iconic designer. Tony trained in London and came to Canada at a period when there was a transition to the “international style of design” which was a focus of mine. He influenced my perspective by showing me that design was not just a profession, but rather a way of life. He proposed that design is how you view everything, and this awareness totally changed my way of thinking. During this time, I had the opportunity to enjoy dinners with Tony and his wife Barbara, where they introduced me to a life of culture and European sophistication.

Tony had a workshop where we worked together on weekends in creating industrial design projects. During this collaboration, he introduced me to the role of industrial design and I became fascinated in the Ulm School of Design in Germany. My intentions were to attend this school however I chose to continue working with Tony at Cooper and Beatty where we were tasked to create the innovative identity and marketing program. Tony was at the time the director on a project with the mission of creating the logo for Canada’s 1967 Centennial celebrations. The logo I designed, “Canada’s Centennial Symbol”, a maple leaf constructed from eleven equilateral triangles, was selected, launching my career in a significant way.

Due to these events, I would not be the recognized designer I am today without Tony’s guidance, friendship, and graciousness. I will forever be grateful to Anthony Mann.

Stuart Ash FGDC

Tony was one of the first people I met and came to know when I arrived with my wife and first child in Toronto in the fall of 1965.

Tony was responsible for me meeting and working for Peter Monk at Clairtone as Director of Corporate Design.

He was a very special person. My condolences to his family.

Burton Kramer FGDC

Tony and I had known of each other as designers. We first met personally in the early 60s when he and his wife Barbara paid me a friendly visit, as a professional colleague, in Montreal.  To know Tony was to like him: it was a pleasure to be in his company. Not surprisingly, we enjoyed a very long lunch together, had an intense conversation about many aspects of our profession as designers and discovered many similarities in our thinking. I think that in those hours we became instant friends and even at that early stage of our relationship did we touch on the possibility of becoming partners.

At a later date, my good friend and colleague, Ernst Roch, joined us and what began as casual meetings between friends did, indeed, develop into a partnership, which was made official in 1965 under the name Design Collaborative. Al Faux, the industrial designer and a friend of Tony's, joined us as well. Unfortunately (for us), about two years later Tony decided to follow an invitation to Halifax from the Nova Scotia College of Art to become chairman of the design department; the College, at his suggestion, was renamed Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Our loss was the profession's gain, since Tony, over the years, trained what must have been hundreds of grateful young designers.

Tony was a very good designer, but an even better design teacher. On a personal level, he connected easily and with a combination of respect and self-deprecating humor. His grasp of and interest in the history of our profession was wide-ranging which made him a stimulating teacher and an always deeply engaged discussion partner. He was widely read and his interests reached far beyond the professional range.

It is a comforting thought that, later in life, his highly developed sense of craftsmanship and design, combined with his playfulness and his wit, allowed him to find fulfillment in the loving creation of imaginative and superbly crafted toys.

Tony's passing is a loss on many levels; he will be sadly missed.

Rolf Harder FGD


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