Thursday, 18 August 2011

Design of the Times

One of the attractions of being an (antique) Antique Dealer is the satisfaction of owning lovely things for a while. Not permanently, but long enough to appreciate the design and craftsmanship which once went into everyday artifacts such as this lovely Victorian Leather photograph album we sold recently.

It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that artistic product design in this Country has faded at the same rate as our Manufacturing base has withered, leaving our limited remaining factories to produce products designed by American, German and Japanese design offices. We tend to treat most everyday products as semi-disposable, utilitarian items and feel we no longer have the exciting design led movements of Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau and Art Deco but merely fads and fashions which come and go like leaves on a tree.

The element of craft and hand-work may have departed but it is encouraging to note that there are still a few exciting product designers based in the Country, producing the wonderful style which appears when materials and functionality are brought together in original and interesting ways.

One of them is Kenneth Grange, who has his own retrospective exhibition running at The Design Museum until the end of October.

This quiet, unassuming but enthusiastic 82 year old has a name you may never have heard of yet I guarantee you have encountered one of his designs at close quarters. They include:

The Original 1958 London Parking Meter

The 1997 London Black Cab

The Kodak Instamatic

The Intercity 125

The Kenwood Mini Mixer

The Wilkinson Sword Razor

and many many more.

We could do with a few more Kenneth Granges around today, adding value and aesthetic appeal to ordinary objects and making them more "fit for purpose".

I'll give you a full run down once I've been down to the exhibition. Please try and contain yourselves.


Scarlet Blue said...

Did Dave write the last line of this post?

Like the book, btw.

john.g. said...

I'm shivering with anticipation!
Seriously though, you can't get the centuries old furniture craftsmanship.

Zig said...

ooooo I had a camera like that!

Dave said...

Odd. I was going to ask if the last line was inspired by the last thing Scarlet said to me.

Scarlet Blue said...

Ha Ha!


Christopher said...

Apropos the last line, I believe Dave has pads, tho I'm not certain that Kenneth Grange designed them.

Z said...

It's remarkable that some people who invent one successful item become household names, whereas others who come up with one completely brilliant design after another remain pretty well anonymous. I look forward to the run down, though preferably not by a black cab.

Martin H. said...

Oh, the Kodak Instamatic with the rotating flash bulb. Apparently there is now an app that creates retro style photos for the iPhone.

Mike and Ann said...

Does the photograph album play tunes ? I have one in the bookcase above me that plays 'The Blue Bells of Scotland' and 'Bonny Dundee' when opened; But the binding isn't in nearly as good condition as yours.

Mike and Ann said...

You say that we dealers don't own thing permanently, and I often get asked how I can bear to part with lovely things. If I have something really tasty in stock I have a triple rule about parting :-
(1) I have to know everything there is to know about the item.
(2) I have to replace it with something even better.
(3 and the most obvious) I have to make a socking great profit.

If I've fulfilled the above three rules then I never waste energy on daft regrets about parting.
Regards, Mike.

Rog said...

Scarlet: I was tipping a metaphorical hat to the master of the cliffhanger.

John: They don't make 'em like they used to!

Zig: They were quite snappy in their time.

Dave: I've warned you against eating cheese for supper.

Christopher: I suppose your location enables you to speak on behalf of the continent.

Z: yes it's odd that Dyson is far more well known than Grange but he does put his name on everything.

Martin: The flash cube! Odd that we are paying good money to go back to inferior quality!

Mike: Sadly no tune. The theme to "Lovejoy" would have been nice.
I like your 3 rules - we are much in agreement!

Nota Bene said...

I'm 250 yards from the Design Museum, so will make a bee line to see this great man's work, without getting over run I hope

Macy said...

We've always got Johnathan Ive!