Now that the world's eyes are on Britain at the moment, here are a few things that maybe you have not thought about.
There is one thing I like about the British approach to design. Once designed and in production for no matter how many years they always seem to recognise it in one form or another. The British are proud of their design heritage and hold onto their iconic designs, bringing them to the masses in a variety of ways. Whether it be exhibitions at museums or stamps on a letter.
This series of postage stamps feature some of the world’s most iconic design work of the 20th Century, which also happens to be British. The Royal Mail enlisted a panel of experts from the world of design to help them make the final cut. The stamps themselves are beautifully designed, clean and elegant—worthy presentations for such great objects.
Here is what they came up with
London Underground Map
Harry Beck’s easy to understand design was based on an electrical wiring diagram and provided an elegant solution to the problems posed by the complexity of the London Underground. It also established design principles that remain relevant today.
Once a symbol of London to visitors from all over the world unfortunately now only a few of Douglas Scott and Colin Curtis’s Routemasters remain on London’s streets.
Supermarine Spitfire Airplane
The superlative Battle of Britain fighter with its distinctive elliptical wings was designed by R. J. Mitchell who sadly died before the plane went into production. The plane’s elliptical wings gave it a higher speed than most of its contemporaries as well as an iconic silhouette.
K2 Telephone Kiosk
Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s design bright-red phone box always stood out on the streets of the UK. Famous for Battersea Power Station and Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral, Sir Giles followed architectural cues in his submission to the GPO's competition to design a telephone kiosk. The K2 was an instant design classic.
In the world of publishing, cover designs have rarely been as immediately iconic as Allen Lane's Penguin classics series, designed by Edward Young, perfected by Jan Tschichold and featuring Eric Gill's immortal Gill Sans typeface.
Mary Quant rewrote the fashion rules for women forever with her daring design.
Concorde Supersonic Jet
Aerospatiale and BAC’s supersonic jet was capable of twice the speed of sound and beautiful to look at too. Strictly speaking, Concorde is an Anglo-French design classic, having been jointly created by BAC and Aérospatiale. Rumours still abound that Russia's Tupolev Tu-144 (or Concordski) was developed from blueprints obtained through espionage.
George Carwardine’s flexible design brought light wherever it was needed. The Anglepoise lamp sprung from his background in designing suspension systems for cars, and uses springs to replicate the function of human muscles.
The Mini Automobile
Sir Alec Issigonis made use of every available space in the small car that was as much a fashion statement as a means of transport. The first Mini rolled off production lines 50 years ago. This revolutionary car became an icon of the 60s and remains one of the most striking and familiar pieces of British design.
Found in public buildings throughout the world, almost everyone will have sat on a Robin Day chair at some time. This ingenious stacking chair is so ubiquitous that the refinement of its design is easy to miss.
Over the last decade or so interior design has never been more popular! Countless magazines and television shows showcase what we can do to our humble abodes to make them worthy of any magazine shoot. Celebrity interior designers are a dime a dozen. However to me there is only one designer who is king, with a couple of others who are only mere consorts. And this one really did have a royal connection, married to the Duke of Edinburgh’s first cousin. And of course we are all familiar with his daughter India, who was also an attendant at the wedding of Prince Charles and the Lady Diana Spencer.
David Nightingale Hicks the superstar interior decorator and designer, famous for his employment of bold, shockingly vibrant colours, for mixing antique and modern furnishings and contemporary art for his famous clientele had all the Savoir Faire in the world. With a middle name such as Nightingale one would have to! Also married to Lady Pamela Mountbatten the younger daughter of the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma and cousin of the Duke of Edinburgh the die was set to become the interior decorator by which all others are judged. His relentlessly organized, color-clashing home interiors were the acme of jet-set chic in the 1960's.
Known for his love of graphic color combinations as well as a temperament that veered between disarming charm and apoplectic rage, he moved through the circles of the rich and famous with aplomb.
His career as designer-decorator was launched to media-acclaim in 1954 when the British magazine House & Garden featured the London house he decorated, for his mother, and himself when at the time he was drawing cereal boxes for an advertising firm. With Peter Evans a restaurateur he initiated a sparkling explosion of drama, colour and excitement in London by designing, building and decorating the Peter Evans Eating Houses, a restaurant chain in London's 'hot' spots of King's Road, Chelsea, Kensington Church Street, and Soho. The style epitomized the Swinging Sixties of London.
Peter Evans: "Hicks was without a doubt a genius. He would walk into the most shambolic of spaces that I had decided would be a restaurant, a pub or a nightclub and, lighting up a cigarette, would be out of the place within ten minutes, having decided what atmosphere it would generate because of what it would look like. He always got it spot on."
David Hicks' heady combination of bold antiques and modern furniture set off by abstract paintings, often best deployed within an envelope of cool Georgian architecture, was the last word among movers and shakers of the 1960's, like the beauty products tycoon Vidal Sassoon. For the American cosmetics diva Helena Rubenstein, he designed an infamous living room of purple tweed walls and Victorian furniture upholstered in magenta leather.
Royal commissions also came through his family connections and he made carpets for Windsor Castle and decorated the Prince of Wales's first apartment at Buckingham Palace. If Hicks could not find a particular fabric, carpet or wallpaper he started designing his own. This and his hyper-dynamic colour sense formed the basis of a style which is much admired and copied.
In the 70's and 80's David Hicks shops opened in fifteen countries around the world. He designed, for example, guestrooms at the Okura Hotel in Tokyo and the yacht of the King of Saudi Arabia. It is said that if he couldn't find something he designed and made it.
Typically, and eccentrically, David Hicks even designed his own coffin, in which he 'lay in state', according to his precise instructions, in the ground-floor room of his gothic garden pavilion.
''He killed every flower in his soul,'' said Min Hogg, editor of the trend-setting British magazine The World of Interiors, referring to the designer's hatred of chintz. ''His was a rigorous, very tailored look. So much of it was about control. There wasn't a wrinkle or crease anywhere.''
''My greatest contribution as an interior designer has been to show people how to use bold color mixtures, how to use patterned carpets, how to light rooms and how to mix old with new,'' he wrote in ''David Hicks on Living -- with Taste'' (1968), one of nine practical design books bearing his byline.
Lets face it all, wherever you turn there is some item of news on the forthcoming Royal nupitals due to take place. I must admit it is a bit of an overload, however due to the backgrounds of the bride and groom, interest is at an all time high.
Digging back in the past was a Royal wedding full of savoir faire! Can you guess who the lucky couple are?
Tom Ford has always been a favourite of mine from his early days at Gucci, his few collections for Yves Saint Laurent and now under his own label. He is the epitome of savoir faire and modern dandyism. Forever stylish it seems that he has been born with an inherent gene of good taste and style. Mind you some of his choices I have not always agreed with. His advertising campaign for his fragrances was one of these choices. The fragrances themselves are brilliant, the bottle design wonderful, the advertising campaign not so much. I thought it was cheap and nasty from a savoir faire point of few.
Now this brings us to his collection for men for Spring Summer 2011. While loving Spring Summer 2010, this year’s collection is a lot more refined.
Where as 2010 there was a large emphasis on pattern and colour which would make the average man in the street run a mile, I think this season’s collection has something for everyone.
Classic styling with Mr. Ford’s characteristic vibe is still there, which begs me to ask the question, does Mr. Ford continuously draw his inspiration from the past, or is he afraid to experiment with new lines. That said, the styling and lines are classic, so there are no surprises there.
The pattern and the texture is still there, however it is not the emphasis of the collection. Pattern is there if you want it, if not there are plenty of other pieces to choose from.
Colours are more in keeping with what the modern man wants. While not exploring any singular group of colours, there is a wide range to satisfy even the most reticent among us with something.
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