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Leski Auctions
The Estate of Brian Myddleton Davis AM - 187 lots

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The Estate of Brian Myddleton Davis AM

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  • Description:

    Brian Myddleton Davis AM (1930 – 2021)

    The man who would create the Décor brand and bring world-class design, creativity and innovation to Australian homewares, was born in May 1930 in Broome, Western Australia, in the middle of the Great Depression. His father was an Englishman-adventurer and his mother, the daughter of a pearler fleet owner. With the decline of the local pearling industry, and with World War looming, the family moved to Melbourne, where Brian enjoyed a happy childhood, designing and building model boats and billycarts at their home in Brighton.

    On leaving school in 1946, Brian joined G.J.Coles as a trainee executive, where he discovered the excitement of merchandising and working with homewares and toys. By 1953 he had moved on, joining his uncle Alex Tolmer at Toltoys. While working for that company in California, Brian introduced the cane hoola hoop and within weeks, Toltoys was producing brightly coloured plastic versions and selling 25,000 units per week. By 1958, the Toltoys plastic hoola hoop was a huge craze in the USA, Australia and all around the world. Returning to Australia, Brian’s interest in homewares remained strong. After failing to convince his uncle to enter the field, in 1958 it was agreed that Brian would start his own business. Working from a desk in his bedroom, Brian Davis & Company was born and registered the original “Décor” trademark.

    One of the company’s first products, the Habana beaker set of six plastic tumblers which fitted neatly into an airtight container, was an instant success. Brain’s philosophy was that his products should be simple, work well and be readily available: It was a winning combination. Brian hired great designers, including Richard Carlson and Tony Wolfenden, who between them designed much of the Décor range. In 1979, with the growing number of BYO restaurants, the company released an insulated two-bottle BYO wine-chiller, which quickly grew in popularity and was widely exported. It was awarded the Prince Philip Prize for Australian Design in 1980 and was included on Prince Charles & Lady Diana’s wedding gift register. Brian was happy to send two for the marriage in 1981. In 1983 the wine chiller was chosen for permanent display in the Design Collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art.

    In 1986, using his own capital, Brian took the risky step of launching a wholly owned US subsidiary and shortly afterwards globalized the company into nearly 40 countries. The expansion was very successful, consistently creating products which reflected the concepts of design quality and simplicity that had led to early successes. During the 55 years that Brian ran Décor, the company received hundreds of awards for excellence in design, promotion, and export. Brian was inducted into the Design Institute of Australia’s Hall of Fame.

    With his strong work ethic, Brian continued to put in 10-hour days with the company he loved until he sold it at the age of 83 in 2013. He had rejected many offers over the years and waited for the right buyer because it was important to him to ensure his staff would be looked after. While Brian will be remembered as a pioneer in design and a successful businessman, his lasting legacy will be the lives he changed by quietly donating the money he made to help others in need.

    Brian gave generously to the arts and a wide range of organizations that could help people in real need including the Salvation Army, food relief charity FareShare, the Smith Family, Very Special Kids, Australian Red Cross, World Vision and the Cancer Council of Australia. Despite never having children of his own, Brian had a lifelong desire to help disadvantaged children and youth. He never sought recognition and often donated anonymously – whether personally, by the Decor Corporation or by his charitable foundation – to ensure there was no fuss about his generosity. He is described by his closest friends as courteous, caring, and decent. He was a man of few words, but a very good listener. He was loyal to his small, close group of friends and was happiest when relaxing in their company and attending the arts including the opera, ballet, theatre, and galleries. In January 2021, only a few months before he passed away, Brian was honoured as a member of the Order of Australia in the Australia Day awards, for his commitment to philanthropy and business.

    We trust you will enjoy getting to know Brian, as we did, by immersing ourselves in the pieces you will see in the following pages. They clearly brought much pleasure for all those years and we are certain you will be delighted by what you find here.
  • Sale(s):
    29 May 2022 ~ 2pm (AEST)
    727-729 High Street
    Armadale, VIC 3143 Australia
  • Viewing:
    27 May 2022 ~ 10am - 5pm
    727-729 High Street
    Armadale, VIC 3143

    28 May 2022 ~ 10am - 5pm
    727-729 High Street
    Armadale, VIC 3143

    29 May 2022 ~ 10am - 5pm
    727-729 High Street
    Armadale, VIC 3143

Prices realised in this sale include buyers premium of 21.450%.

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