Brenner Associates

Brenner AssociatesStephen Jelicich, Des Mullen, Ron Grant.?, Milan Mrkusich  + Vladimir Cacala – (1949 – 1959+?)

Originally set up by three architects (Jelicich, Mullen, Grant) and artist and graphic designer Milan Mrkusich to provide a complete package for the modern homes they designed. Initially from an office in Queen St and then moved to 299 Dominion Rd were a shop was opened to retail their own and other designers work, local and overseas. Designed a number of very modern houses (e.g. the ‘Paul house’ in Temple St with its Butterfly roof) for adventuress clients as well as their own houses – Mrkusich’s Arney Crescent house (1951) both being covered in many magazines of the time (Design Review, April 1954) including Australian editions. Des Mullen left the practice to design modular houses (‘Planet’) for Putaruru Timber Yards in 1953. Brenner’s were joined shortly afterwards (1954) by Vladimir Cacala (1926- 2007) an émigré architect from Czechoslovakia with a background in furniture design, heavily influenced by tutors that had fled from the Bauhaus after it was closed by Hitler in 1933. Adept and cutting edge, the Brenner business moved back into the central City with a new showroom. During this time Cacala also designed houses independently such as the ‘Gelb house’ in Mt Albert Rd (1956). Cacala left the practice to start his own with Walter Leu shortly after designing the highly publicised Blumenthal house  (1958) in St Heliers. Brenners dissolved around this time with Stephen Jelicich starting his own practice…

Stephen Jelicich (b. 1923)

Jelicich arrived in New Zealand with his mother from Dalmatia, Croatia as a small child. Initially living in Helensville where his father had worked, the family moved to Auckland city in time for Stephen to attend the Marist Brothers School in Vermont Street, Ponsonby (along with the likes of Maurice Duggan, Milan Mrkusich) and then Scared Heart College in Richmond Rd (1937 -39). He then found employment in the Public Works department as a clerk but moved to the architecture office, attending the School of Architecture at Auckland University College, as it was called between 1943 and 1948 – along with Lillian Laidlaw (Chrystall) Maurice K Smith, W O Jaine, John Scott, Desmond Mullen, etc.. Completing his B.Arch he joined forces with Des Mullen and Milan Mrkusich to form ‘Brenner Associates’.

After the demise of Brenner’s in 1958 Stephen became involved in ‘Architects Planning Group’ (1961 -63)and also the Board of Auckland Development Association which initiated Aucklands first shopping precinct in Vulcan Lane (1961- although various arcades had existed prior). Following on from his solo practice he became a founding member of Jasmad.

Desmond Mullen

Attended the School of Architecture at Auckland University College during the late 1940’s with many notable others of the era (Lillian Laidlaw, Maurice K Smith, Stephen Jelicich, Dick Hobin, etc..)        Formed Brenner Associates 1949. Early designs include ‘Paul House’, Temple St; Also his own house and furniture were published in the 1948 ‘Year Book of the Arts, alongside houses by Vernon Brown and Ernst Plischke.

A more detailed history will be added shortly.

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