RIBA Journal

Design Classics

House brick - design classic.jpeg

Sorting through my desk a while back I came across a very concise but beautifully written article on the house brick.

I cut the article from the Sunday Times sometime in the mid 90's because it made me stop and read about something that, up until that point in my life, I had never given a second thought. In just 256 words Hugh Pearman managed to convince me to be much more aware of the everyday objects in life. 

As a young design student (as I was back then), pre-internet, before Pinterest, I'd visit the University Art & Design Library at Coventry University to read up on design and scribble down ideas and sketches. One of my favourite reads was a small but very well compiled & written book called Cult Objects by Deyan Sudjic. The book certainly didn't have the most eye catching glossy photos or lots of text compared to some of the other design volumes available. In fact apart from the yellow flash on the cover the whole book is monochromatic.

ISBN 0586084835

ISBN 0586084835

A lot of the Cult Objects that Deyan Sudjic picked out in the mid-eighties remain worthy of their nomination (it's clear that DS has always had a good eye for these things, he is after all the Director of the Design Museum these days in case you were thinking the name was familiar). The book isn't too easy to find these days but if you are lucky enough to find one it'd be well worth adding to your own design library. 

You could use the book (as I have) to comprise a more up to date list. As a designer people will often ask you about your favorite pieces of design so its always good to have an answer and explanation at hand.

Just remember that a design classic needn't be shiny, smooth or pretty. Using the example of the humble house brick - it is none of those things. Its beauty as Hugh Pearman hints lay within its perfect proportions. The proportions of its form lend themselves to its function while the wide array of finishes and textures give the architect freedom to add their own design in the finished build.

Using the old Sunday Times article as inspiration can you define your own shortlist of not so obvious design classics or cult objects?