Inside the Collection

Meet the Volunteer: Denise Larcombe

Black and white photograph of a woman working at a drawing board.
Archive of glass designer Denise Larcombe, Crown Crystal Glass and Crown Corning Limited, Sydney, Australia, 1967-1989, MAAS collection: 2012/128/21. Photo: Ryan Hernandez, MAAS

Name: Denise Larcombe

Which of the Museum’s sites do you volunteer at: Powerhouse Museum

How long have you been volunteering at MAAS: Since 2007

What’s your background: After Studying Industrial Design at East Sydney Technical College I worked in lighting Design and then joined Crown Crystal Glass as an Industrial Designer in 1967. Crown Crystal Glass and Corning Glassworks USA formed a joint venture in 1972 and the company name changed to Crown Corning I was appointed as Design Manager. I later moved into Design education teaching at UTS and TAFE.

Design drawing of a drinking glass.
Archive of glass designer Denise Larcombe, Crown Crystal Glass and Crown Corning Limited, Sydney, Australia, 1967-1989, MAAS collection: 2012/128/21. Photo: Ryan Hernandez, MAAS
Advertising photograph for 'Bergen Series' drinking glasses. Glasses of various shapes and sizes are displayed on a red satin fabric, with packaging for the glasses in the background.
Archive of glass designer Denise Larcombe, Crown Crystal Glass and Crown Corning Limited, Sydney, Australia, 1967-1989, MAAS collection: 2012/128/21. Photo: Ryan Hernandez, MAAS

What made you decide to Volunteer at MAAS: During the 1980s I assembled a collection of 450 items of historic glassware manufactured by Crown Crystal Glass from the 1920s through to the 1960s, this became part of the MAAS collection. Over the years a few of my own designs found their way into the collection. I worked for the company for 23 years and continued as a consultant until the glassworks closed in the 1990s. Over this time I had kept many examples of my glass designs, my sketches, some technical drawings, press clippings and Design Awards. I offered the glass and my archive to Dr Paul Donnelly, then curator for design and society at MAAS, in 2007. I began working with Paul to document the acquisition. I later moved to visitor experience at the Powerhouse demonstrating weaving, my other creative passion.

Black and white photograph of a woman and man, both holding a drinking glass. There is a large display of drinking glasses in front of them and a framed award on the right of the image.
Archive of glass designer Denise Larcombe, Crown Crystal Glass and Crown Corning Limited, Sydney, Australia, 1967-1989, MAAS collection: 2012/128/21. Photo: Ryan Hernandez, MAAS
Newspaper article with a photograph of a woman and the title 'Brains behind the glass'.
Archive of glass designer Denise Larcombe, Crown Crystal Glass and Crown Corning Limited, Sydney, Australia, 1967-1989, MAAS collection: 2012/128/21. Photo: Ryan Hernandez, MAAS

What do you/have you enjoyed most about volunteering here: Working with Paul and seeing his commitment to design was very rewarding. I am currently working in the makers’ space of the Akira Isogawa exhibition. It has been inspiring working with lace makers, embroiderers and spinners as we learn about each other’s work and exchange ideas. The public interest has been great, particularly from textile and design students and teachers who are keen to learn more about hand-made and hand-embroidered textiles.

Three wine glasses of different sizes on a grey background.
‘Koenig’ wine glasses, designed by Denise Larcombe, made by Crown Corning Limited, Waterloo, NSW, 1970. MAAS collection: 2012/128/1. Photo: Sotha Bourn
Seven drinking glasses of different shapes and sizes on a grey background.
‘Haama’ drinking glass range (7), designed by Denise Larcombe, made by Crown Corning Limited, Waterloo, NSW, 1972. MAAS Collection: 2012/128/2. Photo: Sotha Bourn

Do you have a favourite object from the Museum’s collection? The clock designed by Archibald Knox, now on show in the Icons exhibition, is one of my favourite objects. Archibald Knox was a Manxman and I was introduced to his work by my Manx cousin. My great grandparents came to Australia from the Isle of Man in 1882. Archibald Knox worked for Liberty of London and his work is exquisite. I was fortunate to purchase one of his silver brooches from a jeweller in Peel on the Isle of Man during one of my visits there. I pass by that lovely clock on my way to the makers’ space each time I am at the Museum

What’s happening at the Museum right now that you’re excited about? I am always excited to see some Australian Design on show. Last year I recorded an interview with Tim Ross and I know he has taken a collection of Australian work on tour. Learning about the work Akira Isogawa from Roger Leong and Kristina Stankovski has given an insight into the work of the wonderful creative man.

One response to “Meet the Volunteer: Denise Larcombe

  • Very interested to come the Crown Corning archive and that one of the designers Denise Larcombe is a volunteer

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