Design & Marketing Conundrums
Kenneth Grange (Pentagram)


Kenneth Grange, 1985

©Monica Pidgeon

The starting point of my life as a designer goes back to art school. At that time “ art schools had very simple differentiation of courses, 'fine art' or 'commercial art'. And coming from a very ordinary work—ethic type of family, commercial art was the only choice that seemed sensible to make. That in turn only meant what we call 'graphic design'. But I spent a lot of time in the drawing classes. My head- master who was a nice old man introduced me to a friend who was a town planner. I got through her into an architectural practice called ARCON working on presentafl tions for them, booklets and leaflets and so on. From ARCON I went into the army. I was attached to the armoured corps as a techni— cal illustrator drawing pieces of mechanism for instructors manuals. And I think it was actually the beginning of my, in a sense, sort of understanding, of an interest in the mixture of presentation, and construction - because I had to take things apart in order to draw them, and drawing them you knew more about them and so on. I came out and started then working. I got jobs with three different architectural practices dealing with interior detailing. The last man I worked for was a marvellous man named Jack Howe. I was introduced to cabinets and architectural ironmongery, clocks, the sort of paraphernalia which were actually mass-production, therefore they were industrkfl.dbshyiprojects, but typically those which had an immediate use inside buildings. Jack Howe had encouraged me to take on any work that came my way. I designed a small exhibition for the Atomic Energy Authority. And then they called me one day to say they'd got another job they'd like me to do and it was a huge job. It was an exhibit'they were going to mount in a forthcoming international conference of application of nuclear energy in Geneva. It was a 3000 sq. m. exhibition stand, huge by my terms. I within a fortnight I was employing three people because the job had turned into five different languages, which meant a huge amount of extra work and so on. I made a lot of money from it. And that allowed me to then look for any work that could come my way which was to do with design of objects. I had two clients almost within a week of one another, Kodak and Kenwood, both of whom gave me a lot of work. I worked for Kodak for about 23 years I think. I'm still working for Kenwood. I've got together a few slides of the work that I!ve done over these years.


Sewing Machine For Maruzen Machine Co, Japan

©Kenneth Grange

The first is a sewing machine that I designed for a Japanese cdmpany in the late 60's. They had a huge burgeoning business, mostly selling to the Americans but they saw the opening up of Europe as an important outlet for their products. And they had identified that the European taste was different to that in America. They eventually came to my door and started an association which still goes on. The particular product I've got here is I hope an elegant presentation of a sewing machine. It includes one or two features which were quite difficult for them to? accept initially. Such features as moving the needle further back from the front edge of the machine. So the idea on our part was to give more space to the area in front of the needle, to give you more space for your hands to assemble the work and control it better, and indeed to allow you to pass more work through. So that was I think quite an important logical change in design but brings considerable changes in the mechanism.

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