After World War II, Britain embarked on a huge design and construction programme to regenerate the country.The emphasis was on clean, fresh, modern design, sweeping way the remnants of pre-war, almost Victorian, heritage. The building programme aimed to provide modern, well-equipped and spacious homes – an experiment which, with the benefit of hindsight, was rushed through resulting in poor quality construction, utopian design and the loss of much of the neighbourly housing estates which had formed the backbone of strong, united communities. Despite this, public sector housing benefitted from the 1961 Parker Morris Report which set minimum space and amenity standards. Amongst others, the Royal Institute of British Architects [RIBA] has called for these to be reinstated to compensate for the diminishing sizes of current new housing.
Nonetheless, there were plenty of designers and architects keen to explore new, lasting, modern designs which, coupled with their desire to create a better environment for everyone in the new socialist landscape of Britain, brought a fresh and exciting feeling to everyday lives.
David Mellor was one of these young designers. He studied at the Royal College of Art and the British School in Rome and, after graduating, returned to his birthplace, Sheffield, to set up his design studio. Most famous for his silversmithing and cutlery design, his work includes a range of incredibly familiar street furniture including bus shelters, post boxes and the ubiquitous traffic light.
In addition to the shop in Sloane Square London [established in 1969], there is the “factory”, shop and café at Hathersage, Sheffield. Designed around the base of a redundant gas holder Michael Hopkins designed a beautiful and simple building, set within a group of existing restored stone buildings.
The shop is a treasure trove of wonderful kitchen stuff, including all the cutlery design. The café serves as gallery [you can press the “walk” buttons on the traffic lights] and serves a range of simple lunchtime snacks, salads and sandwiches. Well worth a visit, especially if you want something for the kitchen. January is sale time.
Shop and café David Mellor Design