Designer + Sculptor (1904-1988)
ISAMU NOGUCHI (1904-1988) was an American-Japanese designer who originally trained as a sculptor and brought a sculptural sensibility to everything he created: lighting, furniture, gardens and stage sets.
At a time when it’s commonplace to talk of the blurring of boundaries between cultural disciplines and of designers acting out the roles of artists, artisans and technologists, or vice versa; it’s hard to appreciate quite how radical Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) must have seemed when he combined those roles back in the early 1930s. Continue reading
As vice-president of design for the Ford Motor Company, J. MAYS is one of the world’s most influential automotive designers. Before joining Ford in 1997, the US-born Mays worked for Audi, BMW and developed the Volkswagen Concept One, which became the new VW Beetle.
One of J. Mays chief criticisms of his fellow automotive designers is that they design to impress their peers rather than the public. In his role as vice-president of design at the Ford Motor Company, Mays is trying to change that by encouraging his global design team network to absorb and express the same influences as designers in other areas: from furniture and fashion to architecture. Continue reading
Architect + Product Designer (1917-2007)
ETTORE SOTTSASS (1917-2007) was a grandee of late 20th century Italian design. Best known as the founder of the early 1980s Memphis collective, he also designed iconic electronic products for Olivetti, as well as beautiful glass and ceramics.
Wherever he went, Ettore Sottsass carried a camera to photograph anything that caught his eye. Doors, temples, kitchens, billboards: nothing escaped him. This was a man who took 1,780 photographs on a twelve day trip to South America, who toyed with publishing a book consisting of pictures of walls and for years photographed every hotel room in which he had slept with a woman. Continue reading
Graphic Designer (1931-2006)
The Design Museum is saddened at the news of the death of Alan Fletcher on 21 September 2006. Alan Fletcher had already made a very generous donation of his archive to the museum, and was very much involved in the planning of a retrospective exhibition here. The exhibition Alan Fletcher: fifty years of graphic work (and play), scheduled to open on 11 November 2006, will go ahead as planned, and will celebrate the remarkable life and work of this influential figure of British graphic design. Synthesising the graphic traditions of Europe and North America to develop a spirited, witty and very personal visual style, ALAN FLETCHER is among the most influential figures in British graphic design as a founder of Fletcher/Forbes/Gill in the 1960s and Pentagram in the 1970s. Continue reading
Designer (1931- )
Terence Conran has had more impact than any other designer of his generation on everyday life in contemporary Britain though a series of parallel careers. Conran describes the private boarding school he attended as an “inspired” choice by his mother, because it particularly encouraged creativity in its pupils and balanced academic study with practical, physical activities like digging the vegetable garden and rudimentary plumbing. Later, at the Central School of Art and Design in London, Conran absorbed the Bauhaus and Arts & Crafts influenced beliefs that “a good design should be available to the whole community, not just to a few”. After Central he set up as an independent designer at the age of 21. Continue reading
Architect + Furniture Designer (1902-1971)
ARNE JACOBSEN (1902-1971) was one of Denmark’s most influential 20th century architects and designers. Both his buildings and products, like his Swan and Egg Chairs, combine modernist ideals with a Nordic love of naturalism.
When a Dane who spoke very little English and seldom left his Copenhagen studio was commissioned in 1958 to design a new college for Oxford University, one eminent architect sent a letter to The Times describing it as the worst insult to British architecture since the 11th century when a Frenchman had been entrusted with the rebuilding of Canterbury Cathedral. Continue reading
Automotive Designer (1906-1988)
One of the most original car designers of the modern era, ALEC ISSIGONIS (1906-1988) is best known as the creator of the Mini, but also designed two more of the five best-selling cars in British motoring history – the Morris Minor and the Austin 1100.
”One thing that I learnt the hard way – well not the hard way, the easy way – when you’re designing a new car for production, never, never copy the opposition,” opined Alec Issigonis, when asked to summarise his approach to car design. An eccentric and often outspoken character, Issigonis was equally dismissive of market research, which he described as “bunk” and even mathematics, derided as “the enemy of every truly creative man”. Continue reading