Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rule Britannia

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.

Routemaster Bus

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.

Penguin Books

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.

Mini Skirt

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.

Anglepoise Lamp

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.

Polypropylene Chair

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.
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