Martin Hunt: Queensberry Hunt (1942–2018)

After a battle with cancer RCA Senior Fellow (1984), alumnus (Des RCA Dip Class I Ceramics, 1967) and friend of the College Martin Hunt died on the 8 June 2018. He was 75.

Many of you will know him for his partnership with David Queensberry, and as Queensberry Hunt (QH) their work is celebrated throughout the world for pushing the boundaries in ceramic tableware design. 

Martin Hunt and David Queensberry, Queensberry Hunt
Martin Hunt and David Queensberry, Queensberry Hunt
Martin began his career as a studio potter in Cheltenham, but coming to an RCA Open Day he discovered that a parallel world existed involving plaster, moulds, precision and design. He enrolled as a student in 1963 and on graduating in 1966 immediately began designing for David Queensberry, who was then Professor of Ceramics. It was a partnership that survived and thrived for 52 years.

At that time each professor had a small studio behind their office, and this became the QH home. A few years on Martin established the QH out of London workshop at his house in Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex, developing ideas and making prototypes. This move had the advantage of allowing him to pursue his other great passion, sailing. He built a number of boats, the first being based on a Thames barge, approaching their construction with the same skill and technical ingenuity that was a trademark of his ceramic design work.

Martin’s role in the partnership was largely with the design of the tableware, working with an essentially modernist aesthetic with clean pure lines.  He was involved in some of industry’s bestselling collections, including Loft for Rosenthal. Many of QH designs are considered classics today. The partnership has worked with major producers and retailers around the globe including Jamie Oliver, Crate & Barrel, Wedgwood, Hornsea, Habitat and John Lewis, and won numerous prizes and awards. 

The Victoria and Albert Museum honoured the careers of both Queensberry and Hunt with a retrospective show in 2012 and in May 2018 selected the Choices tableware collection, designed exclusively for Portmeirion, to sit alongside the other QH designs in their permanent collection. A recent venture into digital printing for the decoration of Shadows, for Monno, led QH to investigate the potential print technologies offered by the digital print research project undertaken by Martin Smith and Steve Brown at the RCA.

Along with Queensberry, Martin's technical vision and ability to embrace, and lead change in the tableware industry kept the partnership at the forefront of the business, realising their philosophical focus on function and need, creating the extraordinary out of the ordinary and responding to people's evolving eating habits.

Martin Hunt taught on the Ceramics & Glass programme from 1968 and was responsible for developments in glass from 1976 to 1986. Alison Britton (MA Ceramics & Glass, 1973) remembers her interview: 'I was at the College from 1970 to 1973, and came from the Central School of Art. We had proper entrance exams in Ceramics – well, they were improper exams really; it was the first year Eduardo Paolozzi got his hands on them and we had to do things like draw masks, pages and pages of facial expressions... David Queensberry was the Professor, and the tutors were Hans Coper, Eduardo, Grahame Clark, Martin Hunt and Sam Herman.'

Martin Hunt had a gentle presence; he was quiet, reassuring and self-contained. His calm thinking came through into his design approach, and his outstanding abilities as a designer were valued and respected by those connected to the art and design worlds. Martin was a Royal Designer for Industry (RDI), and Visiting Professor at De Montfort University, Leicester, and the RCA (1997–2000) He is survived by his wife, ceramic sculptor, Glenys Barton (MDes RCA Ceramics & Glass, 1971) and his children, Miranda, John and Felix.