Bowers & Wilkins speakers featured in first major retrospective.
Kenneth Grange is Britain’s leading product designer. His prolific career spans over 50 years and he is responsible for designing some of the most iconic and familiar products and appliances that shape our daily lives. Included in his portfolio are several classic Bowers & Wilkins loudspeakers including the Matrix 801 and the Signature Diamond.
At Making Britain Modern, a Kenneth Grange retrospective at the Design Museum, these loudspeakers sit alongside his iconic designs for Kodak cameras, the silhouette for the Intercity 125 train, Kenwood food mixers and others.
Kenneth Grange’s relationship with Bowers & Wilkins began with, as he describes it, the “marvellous good luck” of being introduced to John Bowers. The two men got on well, with Kenneth describing John Bowers as “one of the world’s great enthusiasts. He loved music and was absolutely barmy about sound.”
Kenneth Grange’s designs for Bowers & Wilkins have always challenged the accepted norms of what a loudspeaker should look like, and how it should interact with its environment: “Like all designers I wanted to be able to live with my own designs,” he says. “And I could begin to see the possibility of forms that were generous enough and had enough stature to be furniture, but with an uncommonness that marked them out as specialist functional pieces of equipment.”
The first loudspeaker he designed for Bowers & Wilkins was the ultra-distinctive DM6, which was revelation in both design and performance. He went on to be responsible for the unique design of some of Bowers & Wilkins most successful, and highly regarded, loudspeakers, including the original 801 that was the first Bowers & Wilkins loudspeaker used in Abbey Road Studios and the Matrix 801.
The latest collaboration is the limited-edition Signature Diamond, a curvaceous design launched to celebrate Bowers & Wilkins 40th anniversary, and which features the Bowers & Wilkins diamond dome tweeter. All these speakers will be on display at the exhibition, as will the CM1/2 concept speaker.
Outside his work for Bowers & Wilkins, Grange has produced a wide and varied collection of instantly recognizable design classics. The Kenwood Chef, razors for Wilkinson Sword, cigarette lighters for Ronson, Irons for Morphy Richards, Pens for Parker, each of his designs supported new materials and advances in technology.
More recently, Grange has produced distinctive designs that have become part of our landscape, from the re-design of the London black cab in 1998, to the Adshel bus shelters of 1993. Today Grange continues to work with British companies including Anglepoise, furniture designer Hitch Mylius and fashion designer Margaret Howell.
Making Britain Modern
Design Museum, Shad Thames, London SE1 2YD
20th July – 30th October
Opening times: 10.00-17.45 daily. Last admission 17.15
Admissions: £10 adults, £9 concessions, £6 students, under 12s free.
Public information: 020 7940 8790 www.designmuseum.org