Our local “anonymous” genius


Be honest, before you read further, can you name the knight of the realm pictured on the left? The chances are you regularly admire his work and yet you could pass him in the street without knowing it.

Over a curry at the Bengal we had a conversation about design which made me stop and think. The challenge set was “name your favourite five designers”. I realised that I didn’t really know how to answer the question. If I was presented with an iconic painting or sculpture I think I could take a stab at the artist but I initially drew a blank at designers. As my designer friend pointed out;  we are surrounded by millions of objects – all of them the work of anonymous designers.

When I thought further I began to realise that designers are really valued and integral in some industries – fashion, architecture and automotive are the obvious ones. I could drag up some names at a push. But I absolutely couldn’t name a favourite and definitely not a top five. I could name some of my favourite designs though. There are some objects that are just beautiful and make you smile to see them. The conversation turned to how some wonderful examples of design had cast the spotlight back on to one of Britain’s success stories. We are great at design – it turns out that our education system and career structure are a hot house for breeding great design and great designers.

I love it when a design makes you smile – some of the features of the iPhone make me laugh – they are so simple, intuitive and well executed that you just have to enjoy them. I even love the packaging of Apple products and the folding plug socket they inspired is just genius http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/9089830/Folding-Mu-plug-launches-in-Britain.html.

Then came the Astonishing Fact Of The Day. It turns out that the man who designed the iPod – Jonathan Ive was born in Chingford and educated in Stafford – he’s now the Senior Vice President of Industrial Design for Apple. I know more about Banksy than I do about Mr Ive. 300 million iPods had been sold worldwide by the end of 2011 and yet their creator is uncelebrated by the masses in his home country. We should recognise him but also the British success that he represents.

Thankfully Sir Jonathan Ive KBE has received official recognition.

And I can now name my favourite designer.

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About justaukcook

/kʊk/ Not a chef, not an epicure, not a foodie. Just one who likes to prepare food – What really happens in the kitchen and on the high street is what I write about. Follow me on Twitter @Justaukcook and on https://www.facebook.com/justaukcook
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3 Responses to Our local “anonymous” genius

  1. Gordon Hart says:

    So pleased to have been at the conception of this piece. Great stuff, Paul!

  2. Pingback: Our local “anonymous” genius | Bring back UK Design & Technology | Scoop.it

  3. John Rudkin says:

    I’m reassured when I read posts like this that not everyone has their head in the sand. I used to teach Design Education in Schools. It is an area that should ring bells for those involved in the creative and technical domains as it sits fairly central in its importance. Being able to understand Design is a critical skill in today’s modern society – indeed, it can result in your survival. The blending of science, from a practical application, to the sensitive and bold application of understanding materials and matching these to the user’s needs is sadly lacking in consumers in the younger age brackets – but it is a critical set of skills that can only become relevant when handling, manipulating and “doing” in a manufacturing context.
    If we are to become a centre for industrial excellence – if we are to be the design platform for the world – we have been making a big mistake defocusing on making, designing, creating and understanding the manufactured world. Designers? Love ’em or loathe them, they are the often understated crafters of the world around us.

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