Form and function come together in many taken-for-granted objects that we use every day. From the toothbrush you use in the morning to the car you drive, it’s easy to forget about the design process for these common day products. With iPod now in the dictionary and many designers becoming celebrities in their own right, think Apple’s Jonathan Ive, product design has finally started to get the wider recognition it has long deserved. The LuxPad decided to look back at some of the most iconic, and often overlooked, designs from the last century…
It’s no surprise that the Alessi brand feature in our list, a champion of product design they have worked with all the leading lights in the design industry. Designed by perhaps the most famous designer of the modern day, Philippe Starck, the story of how the Juicy Salif came to be is somewhat of an urban design myth.
Starck was enjoying lunch at one of his favourite spots on the Amalfi coast, whilst thinking about his latest Alessi commission which was for a tray. Ordering a plate of calamari he found himself without any lemon; the design idea came to him and he quicly scribbled the design upon his paper napkin.
Today, the futuristic design first produced in 1990 is held in all of the best design museums in the world including amongst the great design icons in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the napkin can be found on display in the Alessi museum. A great example of modern design, that some say is more form over function, the Juicy Salif is a must-have kitchen addition for fans of iconic design.
The favourite British lamp is a staple in homes across the world thanks to its simple yet effective design and timeless aesthetic, and it all started with some springs and a car designer. Beginning with Herbert Terry and Sons Ltd., a family company established in 1855 who manufactured springs and presswork for the trade. In the 1920s they started to develop products using the springs, creating toast racks to bicycle saddles.
George Cawardine was an automotive engineer, and in 1931 he developed a theoretical concept for balancing weights using springs, cranks and levers. Utilising special springs with ‘constant tension’ developed by Terry’s, Cawardine created an articulated task lamp that combined perfect balance with total flexibility. The design patent was filed and, in 1933 the first four-spring Anglepoise® lamp was launched.
Initially deemed too industrial for a domestic market, Cawardine and the designers at Terry’s came together in 1935 to develop a three spring version which was known as the Anglepoise®Original 1227™. Over the following years it has been refined several times but this model is considered the archetypal Anglepoise® lamp.
From the classic desk lamp to wall lights and floor lamps Angelpoise is still at the forefront of lighting design, and designers such as Paul Smith have collaborated with them to create fashion-forward takes on this timeless home accessory.
Not exactly a product design icon like our other examples in this countdown but an absolute design classic nonetheless we wanted to include Fornasetti’s Tema e Variazioni. Translated to Themes and Variations, this name covers the 100s of variations of Fornasetti muse and Italian opera singer Lina Cavalieri’s face. Depicted across almost every type of Fornasetti products from wall plates to cups & saucers, this is the iconic motif the brand is most renowned for.
It’s not know if Piero Fornasetti ever met Lina Cavalieri, and for many it is part of the intrigue and interest of the design pieces depicting her face as to why he picked her as a muse.
The FT explain in their article here on this design icon that Piero once explained what inspired him to create hundreds of versions of the face of this women, ‘ “I began to make them and I never stopped.” Her face, Fornasetti added, was an archetype, both quintessentially beautiful and classic and he returned to it again and again for the rest of his career.”
An unprecedented visionary, Piero Fornasetti’s work completely transformed the 20th century decorative art scene. He created over 13,000 products, and in terms of variety and diversity of decoration his production of objects and furniture is one of the largest collections of the 20th century.
Fornasetti’s magical world of luxurious and creative design is carried on today by his son Barnaba, and has grown to encompass even more designs and products. Like his father, Barnaba has successfully combined true artistic vision with a traditional and deep rooted artisan approach. He continues to create objects, furniture and fashion items for the brand and last year realised Tema e Variazioni: The First Series, 1–100, a super-luxurious handmade tome. It celebrates his father’s iconic series of ‘Theme and Variations’ . There are just 100 editions, each numbered and signed by Barnaba himself; making this a very special piece of design memorabilia.
As the old adage goes, imitation is the biggest form of flattery, and if that is anything to go by then the Forge de Laguiole knives are even more popular than we thought. Replicated the world over but never as good as the originals, the knives created at this special atelier in Laguiole, France actually started a knife making tradition in the area. The LuxPad took a close look at the history of these knives here, but we still wanted to mention them in our product design icon round-up.
Carrying on the tradition, today the manufacture of every knife still takes many laborious hours, sometimes days to complete.
Every knife to be created by Forge de Laguiole is done so with the precise alignment of each element, from its spring to the bolsters, all aiding in the blade’s longevity and durability.
Each design is crafted, assembled and finished by hand by just one artisan and to maintain the utmost quality control every piece is carefully inspected by several people before it receives the Forge de Laguiole seal of approval.
Many iconic designers have produced a special range for the brand, an ode in itself to their standing within the prestigious products designs of modern times. From the aforementioned Philippe Starck to Andrée Putman and Christian Ghion the world’s best have all worked with Forge de Laguiole helping to cement them at the forefront of exquisite manufacturing.
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One of, if not the, most significant furniture designs of the 20th century, the Eames Lounge Chair is instantly recognisable. The contribution to modern design from Charles and Ray Eames is undeniably huge, with their design influence as varied as it is far reaching. Amongst the most important designers of the 20th century, their legacy continues to be celebrated worldwide.
The iconic Lounge Chair and Ottoman developed for the Herman Miller furniture company, is one of the most famous designs from the American designer couple. As relevant today as it was when first released in 1956, it is the perfect example of form and function meeting in the middle for optimum design balance.
Inspired by the aim to satisfy the desire for an amply proportioned chair that combined ultimate comfort with the highest quality and craftsmanship. Setting new standards, it was revolutionary when it was released in 1956 and in many ways still is today. Now made by Vitra who own the rights to Eames’ designs, it is available in two sizes; the classic dimensions and new larger dimensions. The latter is due to the average human height increasing by around 10cm since the original design was created.
Watch the making of the Eames Lounge Chair & Ottoman from the Eames Official website below.