Industry associates mourn David Bartlett

Friday, August 13, 2021

Renowned designer and champion of paper and cardboard engineering David Bartlett has died, aged 81.

Bartlett among some of his cardboard wares at Fespa Digital
Bartlett among some of his cardboard wares at Fespa Digital

Bartlett died yesterday (12 August). He had been suffering with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for some time, and succumbed to an infection after a recent operation. 

He was a multi-talented designer who worked in glass, steel, and paper-based substrates. 

He found fame in the 1960s with his iconic 'Tab' flat-pack cardboard chair, produced in association with Thames Board Mills. 

It was the first paper chair that could support an adult’s weight, and retailed for the equivalent of £2.25 at the time. 

In the year 2000, one of the original chairs sold at Christie's for nearly £400.

The Tab chair featured in a book about landmark designs

Known as ‘Barty’ to family and friends, he worked with many high-profile clients and collaborators including Lady Gaga, Isabella Blow and milliner Philip Treacy, as well as brands including Habitat and Conran. 

He was well-known in the printing industry for his Brand-it range of printable cardboard furniture designs, which are ideal for exhibitions, pop-up shops and events, and promotions. 

Bartlett regularly exhibited his work and spoke at Fespa events. 

Long-standing associate John Charnock, founder of Print Research International, paid tribute and said: “He was a fantastic designer and a great person. Barty was a real glass-half-full type of person, the most positive, upbeat person even in the face of challenges in his life. 

“He was a dear friend and an amazing designer.”

Bartlett also worked with Cambridge-based interactive print experience developer Novalia. 

After hearing the sad news yesterday, founder and CEO Dr Kate Stone commented: “He will be missed by many people. I know he impacted my life and those around me. Anyone who unswervingly dedicates their life to their creative passion is always my hero. Today a hero died.”

Bartlett is survived by his son, Stefan.

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