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
Typography Designer (1937-)
The most important typography designer of our time, MATTHEW CARTER (1937-) is one of the few designers whose work is used by millions of people every day. Having devoted the first half of his career to typefaces for use in print, such as Miller and Bell Centennial, he then pioneered the design of fonts for use on screen, notably Verdana for Microsoft.
After leaving school, Matthew Carter spent what was intended to be his gap year at the Enschedé type foundry at Haarlem in the Netherlands learning how to making type by hand; that is, carving the steel characters that would be punched into copper matrices for the casting of lead type. This process was more or less commercially obsolete, and most Enschedé interns spent their year working around the various departments of the printing works. Carter’s decision to remain in the type foundry gave him a peculiarly intense vocational training that was in some ways anachronistic. Continue reading
Cutlery Designer + Manufacturer (1930-)
Combining the roles of designer, manufacturer, craftsman and retailer DAVID MELLOR (1930-) steered a unique position in late 20th century British design. Renowned as a designer and maker of cutlery, Mellor has also designed furniture, tools, ecclesiastical silver, traffic lights and a post box.
A truly British designer, David Mellor has built his reputation on the design of a particular product – cutlery – and by involving himself in its manufacturing. His career has been informed by his birthplace – Sheffield, city of steel. When he was growing up there in the 1930s more than half of the city’s workforce, including Mellor’s father, was employed in the cutlery and steel industries. Continue reading
Fashion Designer (1905-1957)
The most influential fashion designer of the late 1940s and 1950s, CHRISTIAN DIOR (1905 to 1957) dominated fashion after World war II with the hourglass silhouette of his voluptuous New Look. He also defined a new business model in the post-war fashion industry by establishing Dior as a global brand across a wide range of products.
“My mother says that when I was little my grandfather used to take me and my cousins on one side after dinner and ask us what we wanted to be when he grew up, and I’d say ‘Christian Dior’,” recalled the French fashion designer Christian Lacroix.” He was so famous in France at the time. It seemed as if he wasn’t a man, but an institution.” Continue reading
Architect + Industrial Designer (1895-1958)
One of the pioneers of the emergence of the modern movement in British architecture and design during the 1930s, Wells Coates (1895-1958) also developed innovative approaches to housing design, notably in Lawn Road flats, as well as electrical products, broadcasting studios and yachts.
“Society today is in a real state of transition,” stated Wells Wintemute Coates. “We are living in an age when a new architecture is not only possible but necessary. As architects of a new order, we should be concerned with an architectural solution of social and economic problems.” Continue reading
Zaha Hadid Architecture and Design
29 June – 25 November 2007
The first woman to win the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in its 26 year history, ZAHA HADID (1950-) has defined a radically new approach to architecture by creating buildings, such as the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati, with multiple perspective points and fragmented geometry to evoke the chaos of modern life.
The opening words of the citation when Zaha Hadid was named as the first woman to win the prestigious Pritzker Prize for architecture in 2004 were: “Her architectural career has not been traditional or easy.” An understatement. All architects have to struggle, but Hadid seems to have struggled rather more than most. Her single-mindedness, her singular lack of compromise is the stuff of legend although, as one writer commented, like a hurricane, “the storms are all on the outside”. In part, it is simple artistic temperament, necessary, perhaps, to create forceful Continue reading
Product Designer (1963-)
The European Design Show
The Dutch designer HELLA JONGERIUS (1963-) works on the cusp of design, craft, art and technology to fuse traditional and contemporary influences, high tech and low tech, the industrial and artisanal.
Standing in the Design Museum Tank on the riverfront was a wooden table laden with food and illuminated by five lamps with ceramic bases and silk shades. On closer inspection it was apparent that the ‘food’ – a loaf of bread, fish, fowl, sausages and artichokes – was made from hand-blown glass and the lamps were embroidered with images of the animals, inspects and birds printed on the silk. Stranger still, the floor was covered in rich brown soil. Continue reading