Title: Products, interiors, events, ideas
Pages: 50 - 55
Text: Products, interiors, events, ideas
This regular review provides a cross section of interesting items from a variety of sources - and reveals some of the current attitudes which are affecting the world of design. This month, the subjects include two new electric fires, an exhibition in Switzerland and an unusual lettering course for students.
New bank in Buenos Aires
Solid and impressive as befits a bank, but with none of the conservatism which is the other side of the banking image, the new central office of the Bank of London and South America Ltd was opened recently in Buenos Aires. The building is basically a reinforced concrete shell shielding the interior from the glare of the sun. Within the shell, glass curtain walling is independently supported on aluminium frames. Inside, there are six main working levels above the ground floor: the first and second levels are double cantilever slabs, supported on central pedestals. The four upper floor areas are suspended from the main roof grid by steel hangers. There are three basements and an underground security area housing the bank's fleet of armoured cars. Above the roof level are restaurants, clubrooms, conference rooms and staff libraries.
For the interior, special desks and other furniture have been designed on a modular system with interchangeable units. Special light fittings have also been produced and used to ensure good working conditions, and particular attention has been paid to accoustics. Local materials have been used as far as possible throughout. The architects for the building, Sanchez Ella, Peralta Ramos, Agostini, in association with Clorindo Texte, were chosen as a result of a competition organised by Gerald W. Wakeham, the architect in charge of the bank's re-building programme in South America.
Keeping a tight hold
Designed for use on sailing dinghies and yachts, the Clamcleat, developed by R. J. Emery and Co Ltd. is a new type of jam cleat for securing ropes. Instead of the usual multiple component assembly, the Clamcleat is simply a small device with a V-shaped groove, the sides of which are ridged at an angle to the base. A rope laid over the top of the groove is secured when pulled against the ridges, and the grip increases with the strain on the rope. A pull upwards or backwards releases the rope which, once in position, will not disengage by accident.
Injection moulded from nylon, the Clamcleat represents a sound choice of materials and production methods for the purpose. Three versions have been produced. The single entry Vertical Clamcleat (price 12s 6d) and the double entry Horizontal Twin Clamcleat (price 18s 9d) both take ropes of between 7/8 to 1 1/4 inches in circumference. The Junior Clamcleat (price 4s 11 d), illustrated here, has been developed for domestic and industrial as well as yachting applications. It will take rope or cord of a to 4 inch in diameter.
All the cleats, which were designed in consultation with Colin Cheetham, have been accepted by the ColD selection committee.
Design in Denmark
Ole Palsby, the owner of a Copenhagen firm selling domestic goods of a very high quality, likes to present changing exhibitions of art and design in his showroom, such as the kitchen display above left. His approach is strictly personal, and he works in close collaboration with some of Denmark's leading architects.
The Royal Copenhagen Porcelain, Blue Line, shown right, was designed by Grethe Meyer. Careful study has been carried out to rationalise the shapes so that the tableware can be produced and sold at a very competitive price. The basic colour is light grey. It is available in this country: prices are reasonable, starting at about 8s for a plate.
Comfort for cold digs
Either of these two new Dart radiant fires would be ideal for cheering up a gloomy bedsitter. Elegant and compact in shape, they incorporate fireclay blocks which give good radiation.
The construction of both is the same: the body is of mild steel, stove enamelled in light brown; the guard, large for extra safety, is chrome plated mild steel wire; and the base is chrome plated mild steel rod.
The prices are reasonable: the 1 kW Dart sells at £4 13s 11d; the 2kW Dart at £6 9s 6d. Both fires, which have recently been accepted for Design Index, were designed by the Morphy Richards Design Group. They were made by Morphy Richards Ltd. now part of British Domestic Appliances Ltd.
Cut out cards
Visitors to London looking for something more interesting than a picture postcard to write home on, can now find postcards which are also souvenirs. Stanton/Dwoskin Designs has produced four cards, selling at 9d each, which illustrate some of London's most familiar vehicles. These can be cut out and made up into models. The vehicles, chosen after consultation with visitors and their children, are a double decker bus, a Royal mail van, a taxi and a newspaper delivery van (these last two on one card), and a British Rail articulated freight lorry. Each model is approximately to the same scale as the others.
Student furniture at High Wycombe
As is perhaps befitting to a school in High Wycombe, the principal project during the past 12 months for Dip AD study in the field of furniture was a chair.
The projects from 11 students show quite a varied approach to a reasonable degree of originality and an interest in knock-down forms of construction. It is also noticeable that none of the designs employs purely conventional methods of chair construction even where the main material employed is wood, it is used in a laminated form. In two of the chairs, those by Richard Becher and Stuart Binning, using vacuum formed veneers with pigmented polyurethane finish, the designs are such that they might well have been designed for a purely plastic material. As with so much student work which shows a freshness of approach, one is left wondering about its commercial possibilities.
Visually the two chairs already mentioned are probably the most interesting though in both cases the degree of comfort offered is probably questionable. In particular, the design by Stuart Binning, top left, is exciting.
Both the knock-down chairs by Barry Wilson and Anthony Bartlett appear to be sound and workmanlike but the resultant chairs reflect perhaps rather too obviously this method of construction (Bartlett's chair is shown in the two remaining illustrations).
Posters of the 'twenties
It took Philip Granville, the director of Lords Gallery, several years to collect the 50 or so posters on show at his recent 1925 Formalism and Frivolity exhibition. Few people, it seems, took the trouble to preserve these relics of the 'twenties, and this is a pity, since the posters, with their Matisse colours, and their hints of Cubism, Expressionism and Functionalism, capture the spirit of the period with more immediacy than the paintings, literature and films of that time.
Paris was the swinging city, and most of these posters celebrate the Parisian gods Chevalier, Mistinguett and their androgynous camp followers. The popular designers extol the gay, expensive and sophisticated life.
Britain spoke with a sterner voice: a poster advertises the screening of Eisenstein's film The Battleship Potemkin at the Temperance Institute in London, and an anonymous designer urges his countrymen to 'Smash Capitalism, Vote Communist'. London Transport, meanwhile, was inviting its patrons to forget their cares in an improbable pastoral countryside, and Ashley Havinden was recommending Enos for health and vigour in the poster, right. Ashley Havinden is the only designer to survive into the 'sixties, and his posters, derivative though they seem today, were obviously bold and avant garde when they appeared. On the evidence of these posters, Britain in 1925 preferred formalism to frivolity.
Products, interiors, events, ideas
Quickening up that lazy dog
"I was appalled by the kind of lettering teaching I had at art school. I knew that it ought to be exciting -that it had to be exciting". Brian Yates, head of the Central School's graphic design department, was talking about the thinking behind the new lettering course for first-year students that he has set up under the direction of Nicolete Gray. The aim, he explained, was to get away from the perennial "pencil-drawn Trajan column approach".
The formal, rather stuffy lecture format was turned into a seminar approach, and a proper project was set up. First, the students were asked to choose six capital letters, and draw their own ideas of the letters quite spontaneously. Then, they analysed the way in which their six chosen letters varied in detail in nine classic typefaces. Next, they carried out experimental studies on the potentialities of varying the proportions of height, width, and width of letter strokes and combinations of these with different types of serif. After this, they developed some of their chosen letters into personally satisfying forms. They then followed up the various lines of research that this had suggested to them. Finally came the creative stage, when they were asked to draw a short text to fill a given rectangular area.
This was an ambitious project for a course which represented 11 days' work in one term - work which was of course interrupted by the requirements of the liberal studies course and by various other demands on the students' time. But the results make it clear that the students' response was keenly enthusiastic, and that a rather dull piece of academic routine had been successfully translated into a live example of graphic design.
Showroom in Cambridge
The new Joshua Taylor Interiors showroom, two views of which are shown left, in Bridge Street, Cambridge was originally a garage. Rodney Fitch of the Conran Design Group, who was responsible for the conversion, decided to put this to good advantage. He retained the car turntable and had it painted green. The existing steel ceiling joists were emphasised by bright red paint, and an old spiral staircase, discovered during demolition work, has been restored, painted and re-located.
The walls and ceiling on the ground floor have been painted white to allow the fabrics and furniture to show to best advantage. The floor is laid with brown quarry tile. Enamel ware and craft pottery is displayed on a redpainted adjustable timber shelving system. At the back of the shop there is a large lighting department.
On the first floor, white painted again and with the distinctive red steel beams, is an exhibition gallery. This month the gallery houses an exhibition arranged by the ColD and called The Design Centre Comes to Cambridge. The exhibition, designed by Mr Fitch, contains seven room settings showing a wide range of modern designs in furniture, textiles, carpets, kitchen appliances, etc. selected from Design Index. The settings are a country kitchen, a living room, bedroom, executive office, a student's study/bedroom furnished with contract furniture, and a conversion in a country cottage. In addition, there is a general display of selected consumer products from Joshua Taylor's main store in Sidney Street, Cambridge.
'Total design' in Switzerland
Last year, the Royal Society of Arts awarded six Presidential Medals for Design Management to organisations with a consistently high standard of design in all aspects of their activity. (Articles describing the design policies of the award-winning firms appeared in DESIGN 197, 198 and 199. Now, a recent exhibition at Basle, organised by the Schweizerischer Werkbund, shows that in Switzerland too there is increasing recognition of the need for good design to extend to the total performance of a firm.
Taking Total Design as the theme, the exhibition illustrated products, photographs and other material from three firms, - Feller AG, Horgen; Karrer, Weber and Co AG, Unterkulm; and Therma AG, Schwanden. Descriptions in the catalogue explained the reasons for the choice of these three companies. Feller AG, and Karrer, Weber and Co AG were considered to have shown over the years an impressive standard of design in products, architecture and advertising graphics. Therma AG was praised by the organisers for consistently good design in all the firm's varied range of products.
The exhibition aroused lively interest and further displays of this type are planned.
Charity begins with plastics
Flag sellers with cardboard trays round their necks and dented tins dangling from strings may soon be a sight of the past. For technology has come to the aid of charity. The Angal Multicollector has been produced to make a flag seller's life easier and the charity's coffers fuller.
The idea is simple - a cylindrical box (the Multicollector, with a funnel slot to take the money can be fitted with a tray at the top to carry the emblems. The whole is made of self coloured plastics for lightness and durability. It can be held comfortably and waved purposefully, and enterprising collectors can brandish one in each hand. The charity is identified by the labelling on cylinder and tray, and also by a 'message ring' round the top which allows the prospective donor to see the name at once when the unit is held out to him. (Identification is not always very easy with the traditional methods of collecting.)
The system is also versatile. A Multicollector, with the tray used as a base, can, for example, be used as a permanent collecting box on bars and counters. Multicollectors made of transparent plastics encourage the giving of silver and notes.
The advantages to the charitable organisation, apart from convenience to its collectors, are speed of handling and ease of maintenance. The cylinder is emptied by breaking the label which releases the trap door in the side. The label does not stick to the unit but to itself and there is no build up of old labels - and consequent soaking and scratching to remove them - as with tins. The complete unit (which is available in various colours) sells at about 5s; 2s 6d for the Multicollector alone. It is designed by Alan Grounds and made for Alan Grounds Associates Ltd by N. and P. Thermoplastics Ltd.