Two handles, a smily face and a lot of bounce. The Spacehopper has become visual shorthand, a way of saying “the 1970s” as clearly and unambiguously as the Rubik’s Cube says “the 1980s”.
7 March 2014
Until 1982 a torch was a torch. It was either a dumpy box held like a watering can, or a cylinder held like a club. The Durabeam changed this. It was the first torch to be held like a walkie-talkie or a Star Trek-style communications device and it flipped open like a Zippo lighter. Originally intended as a promotional device, for the Duracell company, the Durabeam’s novel design was thought sufficiently exciting to market it as a consumer product.
14 February 2014
We’ve been busy, busy, busy for many decades. The first paper coffee cups, for busy people who wanted caffeine on the go, were developed in the US in the 1930s. But two problems blighted their usability: spillage and ease of access.
7 January 2014
It was 1953 and Sweden’s Telegraph Service was celebrating its 100th anniversary. LM Ericsson, the Swedish manufacturer of telecoms equipment, wanted to make something extra special to celebrate the event – a technological tour-de-force to demonstrate Sweden’s technological and design pre-eminence in the post-war era. The Ericofon was born.
20 December 2013
When launching the new iPhone 5C, Apple’s chief designer, Jonathan Ive, described it as being “beautifully, unapologetically plastic”. Its polycarbonate body (with steel reinforcment) gives the 5C a cheerful, colourful appearance a world away from the stark aluminium and glass minimalism that has become Apple’s hallmark
8 November 2013
Sometimes consumers need a bit of a nudge before they embrace innovation. When the American Piggly Wiggly chain pioneered the self-service supermarket, in 1937, actors were paid to push trolleys around so customers could understand the concept. When Earl Tupper launched his Tupperware range of PP, PE and PC kitchenware in 1946 it was a flop
1 October 2013
In May, baristas from around the world congregated to compete in the 6th Annual World AeroPress Championships in Melbourne, Australia. This simple coffee-brewing device has become a cult object that inspires devotion among its users. It has become an established part of the coffee-lover’s landscape yet it’s a relative baby, launched as recently as 2005
3 June 2013
How do you get from beetles to The Beatles? The answer is PVC. Before the 1950s most records were made from compounds of shellac and wood flour. Shellac, a natural polymer, is a resin secreted from the female Kerria lacca insect
8 April 2013
In the mid-1960s it was the holy grail of furniture design: the chair made from a single piece of material. Many designers achieved this aim but the results were never as neat as their designers would have liked. The ultimate aim was a chair created from a single shot injection moulding. Verner Panton’s eponymous chair (see Design Landmark, December 2012) had this ambition but was originally made from polyurethane with a lacquered finish. It wasn’t until 1999, a year after Panton’s death, that his chair was injection moulded.
7 March 2013
Since its launch in 2007 the Amazon Kindle has transformed the way readers consume print media, creating debate and even striking fears over the death of the printed book
4 February 2013
The history of passenger aviation is full of what nearly-happened. And it’s no different with the 787, Boeing’s first ‘plastic’ aircraft
4 January 2013