Having applied his colossal talent to everything from trains to taxis, food mixers to cameras, parking meters to bus shelters, Kenneth Grange is a designer that you know, even if you don’t know you know him. His new show at The Design Museum is a celebration of more than 50 years at the very forefront of UK design, a cleverly-curated journey to the heart of his creativity.
The show includes examples of most of his iconic designs and although an actual Intercity train carriage might not fit up the museum’s stairs, that famous project is well covered nonetheless. The rest is here though – the iconic black cab, the first parking meter, his Kodak cameras which made a whole generation snap happy, his Kenwood kitchen products, Wilkinson razors and Platignum pens, plus a host of lesser-known work produced both for himself and as part of the Pentagram collective which he helped found.
The curators point out that though a modernist, with a commitment to simplicity and symmetry, Grange is not dogmatic about his principles, and is prepared to adapt and soften as he sees fit. He admits he designs to please consumers rather than other designers and understands the importance of refreshing the familiar to appeal to to the mass market.
He is at his best when combining usability and style, as when he re-imagined everyday household objects for the more style conscious Sixties consumers.
Brave but flexible, equally at home designing for men and women, he is a serious talent with a sense of humour, and this show is a fitting tribute to his career so far – rich enough to satisfy confirmed Grange acolytes and lively enough for the less design-savvy.
Here’s to 50 more years!
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