From the first Venner parking meter, the Kodak Instamatic Camera to the InterCity 125 you could be forgiven for thinking this is just a nostalgia trip to a time when life was simpler. A time when parking fines were a deterrent rather than a way of funding council coffers, when you just took holiday ‘snaps’ on the family’s Spanish package holiday and it was ‘The Age of the Train’. That would be to grossly undervalue the exhibition.
Ken Grange’s mark is always one of simplicity, where function follows form in a beautifully elegant and understated way. There’s no ‘show’, nothing’s extraneous or there for decoration. What joy, in a world where brands feel they aren’t working if they don’t shout at you.
Many of Grange’s designs come from a period of post war austerity where British manufacturers were battling industrial unrest and selling to an audience without much expendable income. Product design was not greatly valued, but for those who had the foresight, the benefits were tremendous. Kenwood mixers became the default purchase for those who could afford them and Kodak enjoyed immense popularity through his work.
So why do I feel nostalgic? Perhaps it’s because Grange worked in a time when you didn’t have to win work through pitching and endless procurement processes. People saw his work, trusted him to do a brilliant job and then allowed him to deliver what he did best.