Milner Gray (b.1899)

Of British descent, Milner Gray studied painting and design at Goldsmith’s College. Known as a graphic, exhibition and industrial designer, he was a founder member of the SIA based in London, being its president from 1943 to 1948. Gray taught at the RCA, Goldsmith’s College, and the Reimann and Chelsea Schools of Art from 1934 to 1940. From 1937 to 1940, he was also principal of the Sir John Cass School of Arts and Crafts. In 1940 he joined the MOI as head of the exhibition branch, until 1941, when he served as principal advisor. Advertiser’s Weekly noted his leaving in 1943 with an article.

In 1943 Gray was a founder, with Misha Black, of the Design Research Unit, London, remaining as a consultant until the early 1980s. Their work included the interior design of the passenger liner Oriana. Gray was was co-ordinating artist for the exhibitions Design at Home and Design at Work, London, 1948, and consultant to the BBC schools broadcasts Looking at Things, 1949-55. He participated in the design of the British pavilion at the New York World Fair, 1939, the Britain Can Make It exhibition, 1947, and the Festival of Britain, 1951.

Gray’s work has been widely exhibited, including industrial design exhibitions, the Paris International Exhibition, 1937, the Milan Triennale, 1957 and the exhibitions of AGI, Paris, London and Lausanne. Known for his development of house styles and identity programmes for large British companies, Gray ‘contributed significantly to an improved public awareness of design practice in the UK’ by his various public offices. Papers related to Gray’s work, 1910 to 1955 are held at NAL.

Information collated from: ‘Milner Gray Leaves M.O.I. After Three Years’, Advertiser’s Weekly, November 25 1943, p.187; Amstutz, W., Who’s Who in Graphic Art 1962, p.237; Livingston, A. and Livingston, I., Dictionary of Graphic Design and Designers, 1992, p.92; National Art Library, ‘AAD Holdings’,, accessed August 28 2003. Read: