Tag Archives: Architectural Pottery

Bill Hertel discusses the “Pig” planter

Initially created from a class project in 1949,  Architectural Pottery brought the outdoors inside through mass-produced geometric earthenware, which quickly became a staple in modern living.  Designers, including Malcom Leland, David Cressey, John Follis, and Rex Goode, each created their own distinctive forms designed for “small plants to large trees”.

Today we examine model G-99 and G-99L designed by Rex Goode, more colloquially known as the “pig” planter, one of the many designs produced by Architectural Pottery.  The June 26, 2011 Modern Art & Design Auction will feature two versions of the “pig”, one with a detachable base, and one that is a complete piece.

For some insider information on the “pig” planter we asked Bill Hertel, integral Architectural Pottery employee. Max and Rita Lawrence, the company founders, hired Hertel to be their first showroom manager.  Hertel would later come to supervise the catalogue production, as well as work directly with the design community to get products developed for specific projects.

1. How did the “pig” planter come to be so commonly known as the “pig” planter?

The G-99L was one of the designs that was the result of the challenge that instructor LaGardo Tackett gave to his students at the design school where he taught. It was designed by Rex Goode and the nickname of ‘pig’ is lost in history.

2. Were the anteater, bird bath, and/or sea-lion designed around the same time as the “pig” planter?

The Gordon Newell designs: anteater, bird bath and sea-lion came along later and were already in the line when I joined the firm in 1960.

3. Is the “pig” with the detachable base more rare than the “pig” that is one complete piece?

As the wrought iron stands became ‘out of favor’, so to speak, the design was modified to incorporate integral legs, ‘feet’. No records were ever kept, that I know of as to number of sales for either, but with the newer design I’m sure sold more than the original, but it was never a ‘big’ seller as the cylinders became.

For more information on Architectural Pottery and Max Lawrence, check out this post .

Lot Information:

Rex Goode
“Pig” planter
Architectural Pottery
designed circa 1949
Model no. G-99L
14″h x 26″ x 41.75″
Estimate $2,500 – 3,500

Rex Goode
“Pig” planter
Architectural Pottery
designed circa 1949
Model no. G-99
13″h x 26.5″ x 42″
Estimate $2,500 – 3,500

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Max Lawrence and Architectural Pottery

The recent passing of Max Lawrence, co-founder of L.A.’s Architectural Pottery, has left us with a feeling of void, for we know that this iconic, influential mid-century modern thinker and businessman cannot be replaced.

In the 1950s modernism came to define the way of living in Los Angeles. Captivated by the inviting climate and newness of land, architects and designers created a new sense of living by embracing the capability of an indoor-outdoor lifestyle through post-beam construction and walls made of glass.  Max and Rita Lawrence, however, added their own special warmth to this new lifestyle by bringing the outdoors inside through streamlined pottery.

Max Lawrence and his wife Rita first started the company Architectural Pottery in 1950, after Rita saw the fantastic potential of students’ designs at the now-defunct California School of Art in Pasadena. From a class project led by professor La Gardo Tackett in 1949, students were prompted to create designs to fill a void in the home accessories market. The Lawrence’s saw the opportunity to produce and distribute these new designs, bringing geometric earthenware to the masses.

Architectural Pottery’s iconic designs are characterized by sleek-lined vessels, devoid of ornamentation, and are usually large in scale. These simple, geometric forms – cones, cylinders, gourds, and totems – allowed architects and designers to incorporate these accessories seamlessly in their homes and buildings. Designers of Architectural Pottery included Malcom Leland, David Cressey, John Follis, and Rex Goode, who each created their own distinctive designs.


John Caldwell, who also worked with Architectural Pottery, noted “just about every significant architectural project of the 1950s had to have an Eames chair and an Architectural Pottery pot in it.”  Architectural Pottery could be seen in buildings of the most prominent architects of the time such as Rudolph Schindler, Richard Neutra, John Lautner and Pierre Koenig.  In 1955 the popularity of the pottery skyrocketed, which was noted in an order of 200 of the famous white cylindrical planters to accent the indoor-outdoor spaces of the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

In addition these smartly designed planters were selected for the Museum of Modern Art 1951 “Good Design” exhibition because of their versatility and refreshingly sleek geometric shapes.  This precipitated in making the containers icons, which enabled Architectural Pottery to expand in producing more varied products such as lounge furniture, birdhouses, urns and tiles.

In 1985 Architectural Pottery had to shut down due to a fire that destroyed the Lawrence’s Manhattan Beach manufacturing plant.  Even though the plant shut down, the legacy of Architectural Pottery endured through the ever-present white cylindrical planter. The popularity of Architectural Pottery has come back and pieces are now sought after by collectors and museums.

Architectural Pottery designed by David Cressey from the A. Quincy Jones Collection

More from the A. Quincy Jones collection, and this time it is not books. We bring to you three pots by David Cressey for Architectural Pottery that resided in the atrium of the home of A. Quincy Jones and Elaine K. Sewell Jones. The three matching stoneware pots are detailed with intersecting lines that have a harmonious randomness. The plants inside the pots are equally spectacular. We are definitely selling the pots with the plants, so if you like the plants, bid on the pots!

David Cressey pots for Architectural Pottery from the A. Quincy Jones collection

David Cressey pots for Architectural Pottery from the A. Quincy Jones collection