John Ednie Biography

John Ednie: A Prominent Arts and Crafts Designer

John Ednie, the eldest son of George Ednie, a railway engine fitter, and his wife Jane, was born in Glasgow but grew up and attended school in Edinburgh. He enrolled at Heriot Watt College and won a scholarship in 1897 to study English Architecture and Interior Decoration. Traveling around the country and Europe, Ednie honed his skills in these subjects. Upon returning, he gained an apprenticeship with Scott Morton Decorators in Edinburgh, worked with architect John Kinross, and shared a home with his younger brother Andrew.

Early Career and Influence of Glasgow Style

Ednie joined the design department at Wylie and Lochhead, working alongside George Logan and E.A. Taylor, who was the head of design. Among the three designers, Ednie was considered the purest Glasgow designer due to his architectural studies and the influence of Ballie Scott and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. His designs, characterized by Cyma Recta cornices, shallow carving, and chequer details, mirrored Mackintosh's style. In 1901, he designed the dining room in the Wylie and Lochhead Pavilion at The International Exhibition, which also traveled to Budapest in 1902. His watercolor designs for two rooms were exhibited in Turin in 1902.

Marriage, Lecturing, and Freelance Work

In 1903, Ednie married Lily Epton in Edinburgh and began lecturing on furniture design at Heriot Watt College until 1906. During this period, he also designed freelance for Wylie and Lochhead, as well as interior decoration work for private clients. He designed furniture for Garvie and Sons of Aberdeen and stain glass and decoration schemes for McCulloch and Co. In 1908, he became Head of Design at The Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College's Industrial Art Section.

Later Career and Contributions

A member of The Edinburgh Architectural Association and The Scottish Guild of Handicraft, Ednie co-wrote 'New Ideas for Home Decoration' for the USA market. His career peaked around 1910, with numerous projects decorating house interiors, retail outlets, restaurants, cinemas, and public buildings. In 1926, he moved to London with his wife, and in 1928, relocated to Cairo to become the director of The Cairo School of Applied Art. Tragically, he died from an animal bite in Cairo in 1934.

Researched and written by Tony Geering

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