So I visited the Kenneth Grange exhibition at the Design Museum in London last week and, after having seen the excellent Wim Crouwel display earlier in the year, I was quite excited to see what they had come up with for another design hero of mine.
I wasn’t disappointed.
The display was well laid out, beautifully designed, and had a giant graphic of a BR Liveried 125 painted on the rear wall so, really, as soon as I saw that, I was hardly not going to love it. Most importantly the objects on display were well chosen and formed a comprehensive look at Grange’s work from every phase of his career, beginning with a poster he made at 10 years old for a school competition (!) right through to his humorous, albeit slightly macabre, bookcase/coffin that he intends to be buried in (that is if he dies at all: “I’m pretty convinced I’m immortal” [video interview]).
Grange is a true master of design and, curiously enough, began his life working for a number of architectural practices, not dissimilar to another well known industrial designer of the same generation.
There has been a lot of buzz around Braun and, in particular, Dieter Rams of late, but Grange is just as – if not more so – deserving of admiration.
Unlike Rams, who worked almost exclusively for Braun for the majority of his career, Grange has worked for countless companies and designed countless things from bus shelters to food mixers, taxis to cameras; his design is arguably more accessible and has had more of an impact on the world in which we live. If you visit the exhibition, or even just buy the book “Making Britain Modern”, you will find yourself saying “wow! I had one of those” or “he designed that!?” more often than not.
For me that is surely a sign of great design. When things become so well designed, so well thought out and made, so ubiquitous that we don’t even stop to think that someone has spent days, weeks, months, years designing it, that’s when design can truly start to make a difference. And that describes a large part of Grange’s work.
The Kenneth Grange Exhibition runs until 30th of October and tickets are around a tenner…I forget the exact amount but who cares? It’s well worth it! There is also a new exhibition upstairs too on other design icons which is equally fantastic and worth a look.