When you think of classics of design you probably think of a row of beautiful old red Ferraris' lined up behind a rope in a museum. Or perhaps some other wildly expensive object that is worth far too much for mere mortals to even breath on.
In reality, classic and iconic designs are all around us. They can be found in the most ordinary of kitchens and living rooms. Great design does not necessarily mean a great price tag either. Below are ten examples of classic designs that range in price from £1 to a little over £1000. You may have one or two in your home already!
10. Anglepoise lamp
Year: 1932 / Place of Origin: Bath, England / Designer: George Carwardine
Price: From around £200
When you think of a desk lamp the chances are that what comes to mind is an approximation of the famous Anglepoise lamp. It was designed in 1932 by the English car designer George Carwardine.
The lamps balanced-arm design was apparently based on a mechanism that he originally developed for use on car suspension.
The original lamp was mainly aimed at the work environment. Particularly factories, workshops, dentists and doctors’ offices. This all changed in 1935 with the release of the famous 1227 Anglepoise (pictured above) which was heavily marketed as a lamp for the home.
More info: Anglepoise
9. Pyrex Measuring Jug
Year: 1915 / Place of Origin: Corning, New York, U.S.A. / Designer: Corning Glass Works
Price: From around £8
According to statistics around 75% of American households have at least one item of Pyrex glassware tucked away in the kitchen.
The Pyrex brand was launched in 1915 by Corning Glass Works, a company now better known for developing Gorilla Glass which is used extensively for mobile phone screens.
The glassware is known for its durability and strength. It's easy to spot with its super clear red markings. The simple 1/4 litre measuring jug (pictured above) is perhaps the purest expression of the range.
More info: Pyrex UK
8. Herman Miller Mirra 2
Year: 2013 / Place of Origin: Berlin, Germany (made in the US) / Designers: Studio 7.5
Price: From around £600
American furniture manufacture Herman Miller was founded in 1905 as the Star Furniture Company in Michigan, U.S.A. In 1923 the CEO, Dirk Jan De Pree and his father-in-law bought a controlling interest in the company and renamed it the Herman Miller Furniture Company (after the father-in-law).
In the 1980s Herman Miller began to work with outside design houses as well as its own internal designers. One of these collaborations was with German designers Studio 7.5 and it spawned, amongst others, the Mirra 2.
Studio 7.5 on their vision for the Mirra 2:
'A chair that could react to what people do. A chair that could be simple, good looking, versatile, highly ergonomic, and environmentally responsible. A chair that could do more for people while requiring less of them. '
The part about environmental responsibility is key. The Mirra 2 is made from over 50% recycled material and is 94% recyclable.
Perhaps I'm a little biased with this one as I recently bought one of these, the working from home thing helping me justify the cost to myself!
More info: Herman Miller
7. Le Creuset French Oven
Year: 1925 / Place of Origin: Fresnoy-le-Grand, France / Designers: Armand Desaegher & Octave Aubecq
Price: From around £120
An immediately recognisable classic of the kitchen, the first French Oven (casseroles in French) was produced in 1925 by French cookware company Le Creuset (The Crucible).
The signature colour pictured above is known as 'flame' and was intended to imitate the bright orange hues of molten metal. It was a revolution in the kitchen as up until then cookware had been dull and purely functional.
They are noted for their durability with many people reporting using the same pot for 30 years or more. This is reinforced by the lifetime warranty.
No celebrity chef would dare be seen using anything else!
More info: Le Creuset UK
6. Alessi Pulcina Espresso Coffee Maker
Year: 2015 / Place of Origin: Italy / Designer: Michele De Lucchi
Price: From around £45
Alessi is an Italian manufacturer of homeware, founded in 1921 by Giovanni Alessi. The company is well known for its collaborations with some of the most important designers, architects, and industrial designers of modern times. These have included Richard Sapper, Philippe Starck and in the case of this coffee maker, Michele De Lucchi.
Michele De Lucchi was born in 1951 in Ferrara, Italy. He is well known for designing lamps and furniture for companies such as Olivetti and Hermès. He was one of the founders of famed 80s design house Memphis Group.
He apparently worked for 15 years with the coffee company Illy on his designs for this coffee maker which was then manufactured by Alessi and launched in 2015.
The word 'Pulcina' means 'chick' in Italian. Looking again at the shape and the 'beak' you can see why. Now that you know that, look again at the image. Perhaps what you initially took as a fairly cold modernist design now has a cute and humorous feel.
More info: Alessi UK
5. Fender Precision Bass Guitar
Year: 1951 / Place of Origin: Fullerton, California, U.S.A. / Designer: Leo Fender
Price: From around £600
When people think of a bass guitar, even those not particularly familiar with the instrument, the chances are that what will appear in their head is either a Fender Jazz Bass or this, the famous Fender Precision Bass (P-Bass for short).
It was designed by legendary American guitar designer, Leo Fender to overcome the problems the traditionally used double bass was experiencing being heard in a live setting.
On release it was not a hit with musicians. Double bass players looked down on it as an inferior sounding instrument as it lacked the rich acoustic qualities of the hollow bodied double bass.
In 1957 Elvis Presley released Jailhouse Rock on which his bass player, Bill Black, used a Fender Precision Bass and the instruments place in popular culture was assured. It remains one of the best selling bass guitars ever produced and indeed, one of the best selling and most iconic musical instruments ever made.
More info: Fender Online Store
4. Little Trees Air Fresheners
Year: 1952 / Place of Origin: Watertown, New York, U.S.A. / Designer: Julius Sämann
Price: From around £1
As the well-worn story goes, in 1952 a dairy truck driver complained to his friend, the German born Canadian chemist Julius Sämann, that his truck stank of spilt milk and cream.
Julius decided to do something about it. Using his experience in extracting natural pine tree oils he combined these with blotting paper and his air freshener was born. The finishing touch was cutting them into the shape of a a stylized evergreen tree.
The company that continues to make Little Trees (previously known as Magic Trees in the UK), Car-Freshner Corporation, estimates it sells $100million worth of them annually.
More info: Little Trees Store
3. Noguchi Table
Year: 1944 / Place of Origin: U.S.A./ Designer: Isamu Noguchi
Price: From around £1,300
Probably the most iconic coffee table ever mass produced, the Noguchi table was designed by Japanese American industrial designer Isamu Noguchi. It was apparently based on a 1939 table that he had designed for the then president of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It is the embodiment of his philosophy that 'everything is a sculpture'.
The design is extremely simple, using just three parts - the two wooden interlocking legs topped by 19mm thick tempered glass.
The Noguchi table is widely available and relatively affordable. It has been in almost constant production since the late 1940s. If you don't think one would look quite right in your living room, you can visit MoMA where they have two in the permanent collection.
More info: Noguchi Museum Shop
2. Dualit Classic Toaster
Year: 1952 / Place of Origin: Crawley, West Sussex, England/ Designer: Max Gort-Barten
Price: From around £70
A true icon of the kitchen, the Dualit Classic Toaster was designed in 1947 by German-English inventor and entrepreneur, Max Gort-Barten CBE in Crawley, West Sussex. It was conceived as a toaster for commercial environments such as restaurants and cafes, places in which it would have to stand up to prolonged periods of use.
Since 1952 many variations have been produced by Dualit. The toaster is available in a variety of slot numbers and many different colours. They all retain the classic elements and longevity that made it a timeless product.
If you look closely, you will see many visible screws. These allow the toaster to be easily disassembled for repair. Spare parts are readily available which should mean a longer kitchen life than a 'regular' toaster. I do wonder though how many people actually take them apart and repair them.
The Dualit Classic Toaster is still hand built to this day in Crawley, in a factory actually only two miles from our offices!
More info: Dualit
1. Alessi Juicy Salif Lemon Squeezer
Year: 1990 / Place of Origin: Italy/ Designer: Philippe Starck
Price: From around £65
The Alessi Juicy Salif Lemon Squeezer is easily one of the most famous homeware objects ever produced. The story goes that French industrial designer, Philippe Starck designed his lemon squeezer in a pizza restaurant...on a table napkin!
The Juicy Salif has a dubious reputation for performing the task it was designed for or even being used as anything more than a piece of art. In 2000 Alessi produced a special gold-plated anniversary edition that underlined this - if this edition had been used as intended, the citric acid in the lemons would attack and ruin the finish.
But as Philippe Starck himself said, 'My lemon squeezer isn’t for squeezing lemons...it's for starting conversations.'
More information: Alessi UK
Mike is a designer at Optima Systems. He grew up in West London and now lives by the sea. His first love was music which led to jobs in recording engineering and a number of years as a front of house sound engineer and theatre stage manager. Having been taught the basics of HTML while at university he continued to develop websites as a hobby. It wasn't long before he realised the hobby was the more rewarding pursuit. More about Mike.