Before Apples there were Tangerines. Today Hoxton, in London’s East End, is a global design and technology hub. The Old Street traffic island, that marks its south-western border, is now known as “Silicon Roundabout”. But in 1990 the area was something of a wasteland.
1 December 2014
Few technologies get a second chance once they are superseded. The steam train isn’t coming back anytime soon. Neither is the VHS video recorder.
18 November 2014
Superstar French designer Philippe Starck is not someone you would accuse of making functional objects. His citrus press, shaped like a rocketship, is undeniably pretty but has nothing to collect the pith and pips.
18 November 2014
Some products are so ubiquitous, so everyday, that one forgets that they were ever designed. They just are. Bubble wrap is one of these products – overlooked, taken for granted.
5 September 2014
The styling of Braun products, in the company’s 1950s to 1970s heyday (before its acquisition by Gillette, in 1984) was mostly characterised by restraint.
17 July 2014
A European plastics icon celebrates its fortieth anniversary this year: Playmobil, the cheerful, injection-moulded figurines that have brought joy to generations of children across the globe.
3 June 2014
You probably have one on, or near, your desk right now. Its ubiquity is such that you might not even recognise it as a landmark design. But it’s there. The Hungarian inventor László Bíró first exhibited his invention, the ballpoint pen, at the Budapest International Fair in 1931.
8 May 2014
Until this groundbreaking design’s release in 1934, radios and gramophones were considered furniture. Their electronic guts were housed in the cabinet maker’s craft: hand-finished boxes produced using centuries-old techniques.
2 April 2014
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