What Makes A Design Classic
“Design Classic – A product that serves as a standard of its time, that has been manufactured industrially and has timeless appeal.” Design Technology
Classic Design is always referred to as timeless, which means it has staying power. It is created to last. It is not a fad or a trend. It is a style that “responds to criteria of balance, harmony and proportion”.
Characteristics of a Classic Design
- Regardless of time period it still remains at a high standard.
- Instantly recognizable
- Often referred to as Iconic
- Continued demand is not contingent on marketing or advertising although it does take place to remind new generations of consumers of the intrinsic value of the “classic design”
- Design is often widely imitated with cheaper versions
- Design may no longer be needed or technologically viable and becomes a collectible
- May have an investment value
- For many centuries prior to the Industrial Revolution, “classic” evoked thoughts of artistry and craft skills, for example, classical architecture and furniture. The advent of mass production and “designing for the masses” often meant a reduction in quality of products and poor design. However, once mass production techniques became more established some designers embraced the opportunities offered by the new techniques and materials as a way of providing people with well-designed products at an affordable price due to the cost-effectiveness of production. No longer was classic design the preserve of the elite in society.
Homes that have a timeless look are fresh and relevant today and will endure the test of time. Classical design lovers are investing in a style which will maintain its value and timeless beauty. Here are more classic designs, styles, materials and colors that are created to last.. Isn’t that the trend now, design which is driven by authenticity and sustainability?
Kitchen built-ins – Design by Kelly Wearstler – Example of the innovation which arises out of traditions of excellence arrived at over time within the Classic Style.
“Designers will be successful in the marketplace when they solve long-standing problems, improve on existing solutions or find a “product gap”. The constant evaluation and redevelopment of products is key, with unbiased analysis of consumers and commercial opportunities.”
Functional Works of Art – Arts and Crafts Decorative grilles were originally made in New York State in approximately 1865-1920. They are the most outstanding return air grilles ever made in the USA. Andrew Carnegie placed them in most of the Carnegie Libraries. Beaux-Arts Classic Products has been manufacturing these historical reproduction supply vents in the USA since 2003. They chose to hand cast this classic heating and air conditioning decorative grille in the highest quality exterior grade urethane resin which is appropriate for exterior applications such as foundation crawl space grilles and in wet locations such as bathrooms or near indoor swimming pools. It is a perfect material for architectural products as it maintains the integrity of the original design details and it is strong, dimensionally stable and heat resistant. They can be used for historic preservation since they meet U.S. Government’s General Services Administration Code #1501003S Standards for Historic Preservation Guidelines. They will not rust, rot or corrode and are maintenance free.
Improved manufacturing techniques and technology
This is our French style Louix XIV grille in my entrance foyer. You can imagine how the industrial return looked.
This is already a long post but here are some fun facts about the innovation of some of our most iconic product designs. Taken from an article by Kathryn Henderson, The 50 Most Iconic Designs of Everyday Objects.
Track Lighting System
Year Invented: 1963 by Lightolier
Lightolier’s track lighting system rethought the possibilities of lighting. By creating a long electric strip that lights could snap into, the track lighting allowed for more flexibility in lighting options.
Recessed Lights and the latest LED technology. Recessed Lights are now attractive and energy efficient. Beaux-Arts Classic Products innovation are our decorative options which transform them from their industrial application to an attractive light source for today’s classic style spaces.
Decorative Recessed Light – Victorian Style 6″ LED Wafer Thin Recessed Light Trim
Thermos Vacuum Flask
Year Invented: 1892
Designer: Sir James Dewar
Chemist and physicist Sir James Dewar invented the vacuum flask in 1892. The flask consists of two walls that have air vacuumed out from between them to keep liquids hot or cold longer. Unfortunately, Dewar never patented his invention, and a German company, Thermos GmbH, ended up manufacturing it in 1904, subsequently patenting the design and leaving Dewar with no rights to the product.
Year Invented: 1991
Arguably the most iconic boombox there is, the JVC RC-M90 has been referenced numerous times in music and film, and it even appeared on a few album covers (like Solid Gold Hits by the Beastie Boys and LL Cool J’s Radio.) While the boombox itself is an icon of everyday design, the RC-M90 has become an icon of pop-culture as well.
Weber Barbecue Grille
Year Invented: 1950
Designer: George A. Stephen
George Stephen worked for Weber Brothers Metal Works, a metal fabricator that primarily made buoys. Stephens was frustrated with his open-brick grill, because he felt that it produced uneven heat and too much smoke. The open top also allowed too much wind to blow ashes into his food. So Stephen took half of a buoy and welded three steel legs onto it. This marked the beginning of the Weber-Stephen Products Co. and one of the most iconic cooking objects to date.
Year Invented; 1849
Designer: Walter Hunt
The invention of the safety pin is a story of caution. In order to repay a $15 bet, Walter Hunt designed a fastening pin out of copper wire and a clasp to hold the end of the wire. His invention is the basis of the modern day safety pin, but Hunt sold his patent to WR Grace and Co. for $400, using the money to pay off his friend. As we know today, the safety pin is an invention that is used throughout the world, and one that made WR Grace Co. millions of dollars. Mr. Hunt only made $485.
Bic Ballpoint Pen
Year Invented: 1938
Designer: Laxlo and Gyorgy Biro
Lazlo and Gyorgy Biro presented their pen design at the Budapest International Fair in 1931. By this time, many variations on the ballpoint pen had been patented, but none of these were as commercially viable as the Biros’ design. The Hungarian Biro brothers patented their design in 1938, and in 1943 they moved to Argentina, where they formed Biro Pens of Argentina. The design was licensed to the British, and in 1945, Marcel Bich bought the patent, which soon became the star product of his Bic company.
Swiss Army Knife
Year Invented: 1890
Designer: Wester & Co.
The Schweiser Officersmesser (or the Swiss Army Knife as U.S. soldiers called it during World War II, because they couldn’t pronounce the German name), was designed by West & Co. for the Swiss Army. The knife was designed to open food containers and disassemble rifles, among other things. The original knife had a blade, reamer, can opener, and screwdriver. In 1891, Elsener took over production of the model. His company Victorinox is the producer of the classic Swiss Army Knife we see and use today.
Year Invented: 1917-1921
Designer: Earle Dickson
Earle Dickson worked for Johnson & Johnson, and he also had a very clumsy wife. This aided Dickson in creating one of the best-selling bandages ever. Sales were initially slow; they only sold $3,000 worth of Band-Aids the first year, but once Johnson & Johnson decided to give free Band-Aids to Boy Scout troops as a publicity stunt, the sales started picking up. Now the company says that sales have topped over $100 billion.
Year Invented: 1913
Designer: U.S. Navy
The origin of the t-shirt is murky. Some say that the British wore the garment under their military uniforms during World War I, and others say that the French may have worn them even earlier. Most people cite the U.S. Navy as the originator of the shirt—first requiring it in their issued uniforms as early as 1913. Other branches of the military were soon to follow; in the late 1930s, the Marines adopted the garment, and by the end of WWII, the Army had it as well. It was the popularity among the armed forces that allowed to shirt to transition from just a piece of uniform to an everyday clothing staple. By the late 1950s, the T-shirt had seeped into American pop-culture, sported by Hollywood icons like James Dean and Marlon Brando.
Year Invented: 1945
Designer: Earl S. Tupper
Earl S. Tupper’s storage containers were revolutionary to their class of kitchen supplies; they were durable, flexible, and beautiful. House Beautiful even gushed about the line in 1947, calling the products “art objects.”
Year Invented: 1847
Designer: William S. Henson
The basic razor was invented by William S. Henson. The design was easier to use on oneself than the previous straight razor design, but in 1880, Fredrick and Otto Kampfe improved it by adding a blade holder that distanced the blade from the handle, and allowed the hair to be cut without damaging the skin. In 1901, King Camp Gillette improved upon the razor again, creating a disposable double-edge blade, which was widely used by American troops in World War I. In the 1970s, a disposable version of the design was adapted to further reduce risk, and the razor blades were embedded into a disposable plastic cartridge, which is similar to the disposable razors we see today.
Glass Coca-Cola Bottle
Year Invented: 1916
Designer: Root Glass Co.
Coca-Cola wanted to create a bottle that could be easily identified by shape alone, so in 1916, Root Glass company designed the 6.5 ounce bottle, inspired by the gourd-shaped coca pod.
Levis Denim Jeans
Year Invented: 1873
Designer: Jacob Davis/Levi Strauss
Although the denim fabric was invented long before, jeans as we know them today were not invented until 1873, when Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss designed the first pair out of denim with strategically placed, reinforced copper rivets to prevent ripping.
Apple IIc Personal Computer
Year Invented: 1982-1985
The Apple IIc was the first truly user-friendly computer. By creating a clean, sophisticated design and scaling down components, Frog Design, along with Apple, was able to create a modern, easy-to-use product that was immediately copied by competitors.
Model 302 Telephone
Year Invented: 1876
Designer: Henry Dreyfuss
Western Electrics Model 302 was the first widely-used telephone to include a ringer and network circuitry in the same unit. Its iconic form was designed by predominant industrial-designer, Henry Dreyfuss. The phone was first deployed on the Bell System in 1936 and appeared in many TV shows and films, including a memorable scenes in I Love Lucy. The phone is still referred to as “the Lucy phone” by collectors
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