Kenneth Grange the Hampstead designer who finds beauty in the useful
Following a successful 50-year career, Kenneth Grange’s acclaimed accessories for life are showcased in a major retrospective at the Design Museum – Kenneth Grange: Making Britain Modern.
Grange, who lives in Hampstead, has been the aesthetic eye behind some of the most iconic products in everyday life, working with big companies like Kodak, Kenwood, Morphy Richards and Parker to create products influenced by the harmony of form and function found in Italian and Scandinavian design.
The Modernist designer was born in London in 1929 and attended Willesden School of Arts and Crafts from 1944 until 1947. Afterwards, while serving in the Royal Engineers, he also trained in technical drawing.
It was in 1958, after returning from military service, that Grange founded a company – Kenneth Grange Design – that was to help him take his first steps into designing iconic products which inhabit our environment.
Visitors to the exhibition will see that Grange has designed a recognisable item every decade since the 60s.
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In 1960, Grange created the “Chef” line in food mixers for Kenwood and, in 1968, the Kodak ‘Instamatic’ camera. During the 70s, he designed the “Parker 25” fountain pen for the famous pen manufacturer.
More recently, in the 1990s, Grange has redesigned the London black cab, the Adshel bus shelter and the rural post box for Royal Mail.
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Grange was also responsible for the design of British Rail’s high-speed 125 train in 1968, a project he is said to be particularly proud of.
The designer, who was awarded a CBE in 1984, continues to work with many British companies even today.
Grange’s traditional approach to design – seeing good design as being rooted in functionality as much as form – means that he is relatively unknown in the general design community in spite of all his success.
Still, even if Grange is not a household name, his designs sit proudly in homes across the country.
n Kenneth Grange: Making Britain Modern is at the Design Museum, near Tower Bridge, until October 30. The designer will be interviewed on October 11 at 7.30pm at the museum. Visit www.designmuseum.org.