Sunday, March 28, 2010


I doubt if I was even twelve years old when my father, a minister of the Church of Scotland, passed on to me a central tenet, a conviction he held very strongly. "Good design matters, boy!"

Design was a timely topic in 1951, when the Festival of Britain ushered in the second half of a century promising post-war peace, the promise of prosperity and an underlying optimism.

Although the Festival venue was in far-off London, the message reached us in Dundee where the converted aircraft carrier HMS Campania was a floating mini-festival visiting many of Britain's ports for whose citizens the idea of a jaunt to London was as unthinkable as a voyage to the moon.

School-boy enthusiasm was easily aroused by the prospect of going aboard the giant carrier. Coming ashore afterwards I think I was a convinced 'mid-century modernist'!

Recollections become somewhat fuzzy after over half a century. Did my father ever actuall manage to own a Dieter Rams designed Braun hi-fi? The 'Snow White's coffin' model dates from 1956, by which time we as a family had emograted to the United States. It might well be that we merely drooled over magazine advertisements and catalogues. These objects of such elegance and refinement were, I reckon, beyond the means of a clergyman's family.

But for many, many years the Dieter Rams design ethos was a common bond between father and son.

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