The exquisitely sensitive work of Peter Wildbur

By Ian McLaren


Peter Wildbur is one of the quiet men who characterized British graphic design during the formative years of what is now called the ‘design industry’. He played a significant part in the evolution of design practice in Britain and Eire during the 1960s and 70s. He also exemplifies the term ‘information designer’, or ‘information architect’ as sometimes it is now called.

Peter was born in South London during 1927. His childhood was spent in the vicinity of the RAF fighter station at the then Croydon Airport. The squadrons based there played an active part in the Battle of Britain, which influenced Peter to join the wartime Air Training Corps (ATC) as a cadet. Later, on graduating from the Central School in London, when he was conscripted he joined the RAF and served in Germany in Wunstorf (now a Bundesluftwaffe base) at the time of the Berlin Airlift. Peter retained an active involvement in aviation, later becoming a recreational glider pilot and instructor.

He had studied design initially at Sutton School of Arts and Crafts where he was impressed by the principal, WL Gaydon, whose enthusiasm for applied industrial art made an impression on Peter. In an unpublished manuscript Barry Kitts quotes Peter as observing that ‘Gaydon had a unique gift for communicating his topics with insight and enthusiasm, qualities which I then took for granted but have found to be in short supply in our market-orientated education system today’. ...