Contemporary Series C-10 Contemporary Series C-20

About Richard "Dick" Harvey and Sculpta-Grille

Dick & Ethel Harvey (seated) with Arthur Douglas of Sweets Catalogue

Dick & Ethel Harvey (seated) with Arthur Douglas of Sweets Catalogue

Born in 1919 and raised in New York City, Richard "Dick" Harvey studied art at Brooklyn Tech High school and received a degree in Mechanical Engineering at City College of New York. His initial goal was a career in the fledgling field of industrial design. When World War II broke out, Harvey served in the US Navy. After his navy service he began working with his father--a first class toolmaker, designing and manufacturing plastic injection molds for the doll industry.

Primarily a designer, Harvey observed that modern architectural styles of the 1940's and 50's could appear stark and lacking suitable decorative relief. He began researching; sculpting and designing what he felt would be an appropriate complement to modern architectural design. Harvey began hand-building plaster-of-paris prototypes for classically-styled grille-work. Responses to these designs were overwhelmingly positive and Harvey was encouraged to develop the idea further. He initially chose four classic designs; "Ring and Bar," "Persian," "Persian-Lattice" and "Arabesque".

The late 1950s were a period of creative entrepreneurship and Harvey made the decision to go into business. Injection molds were built and new-product press releases were sent to trade publications.

Harrey Captured and Helped Define an Era of Design

In June of 1959 an article and photograph appeared in Interior Design Magazine; inquiries and orders quickly followed. "Harvey Design Workshop" became incorporated and the "Classics" line of "Sculpta-Grille" was officially launched. Methods and tools were developed for assembling the grillwork parts--made of high-quality injection molded plastic--into panels. Two pieces were cemented together to form a hollow unit which could then be assembled into panels of any size, in multiples of one square foot, repeated to form a flowing pattern. The first orders were filled from the basement of the family home in Lynbrook, NY, with assistance from Harvey's wife Ethel and family friends.

It was a happy and exciting time. The business moved to a local shop-- just as neighbors were becoming curious about trucks loading crates from the garage.

Articles and installation photographs continued to appear in trade magazines and newspapers from coast to coast. Ethel, a graphic designer, assisted Harvey in producing an attractive brochure.

The brochure was included in the Sweets Catalogue--a set of volumes distributed to architects nationwide. (The Sweets Catalogue, a division of McGraw Hill, enabled architects to reference hundreds of architectural products. Today, it is an online resource; the Sweets Network). Sculpta-Grille brochures in Sweets Catalogue (which included specifications for placing orders) became the main mode of sales production.

Gratified with the variety of ways architects utilized the original "Classics" line of Sculpta-grille, Harvey added his own completely original sculptured designs--the "Contemporary" line. There were two basic contemporary designs which could be mounted vertically or horizontally: C-10 (vertical), C-1090 (horizontal), C-20 (vertical), and C-2090 (horizontal).

Recently, the Contemporary line has become highly collectable; originals are rare and quite expensive. It has become very popular among set designers, presenting a beautiful mid-century-modern look. Contemporary Sculpta-Grille has been used in many films, television commercials and music videos. Modernica, a Los Angeles, California design firm, is currently manufacturing reproductions of the C-20 panels.

Richard "Dick" Harvey captured and helped define an era of design; mid-century modern--the look & feel of the 1950's & 60's. Sculpta-Grille C-10 and C-20 samples are included in the permanent collections of the Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York, NY.