Things are constantly changing in the world of design. It seems like every five years, a company has a rebranding and gets rid of its familiar products, logos and slogans. After all, they have to keep pace with modern times, right?
Well, below are ten everyday designs that have stood the test of time. And they’ve stood for much longer than you’d think.
The Mercedes star is over 200 years old.
The Mercedes star is iconic: clean lines, one circle and three lines. It is a minimalist masterpiece, but it was designed at least thirty years before modernism took over the world in the 1910s. Karl Benz drew the design on the side of a house in the 1880s because he believed that a star would rise from that spot.
The IKEA Klippan sofa was first sold in 1979.
Everyone has had a Klippan sofa at one point or another. It has been a best seller since it debuted in 1979 – 34 years ago. Incidentally, Klippan means “the cliff”, and it is named after the Klippan Municipality in southern Sweden.
The standard red telephone box was designed in 1924.
The red telephone box is a potent symbol of Britain, but did you know it is almost 90 years old? in 1924, many London boroughs didn’t like the K1 telephone kiosks the Post Office had and refused to have them installed. In an effort to win the boroughs over, the Post Office held a design competition for new boxes, and the K2 design won.
The Anglepoise lamp is celebrating its 81st birthday.
George Carwardine was a car designer who, in 1932, was working on new suspension systems for cars. He hit upon one design that he felt would have applications in other areas, and specifically he thought about how it make a great arm for a desk lamp. Turns out, everyone agreed, and the Anglepoise lamp was born.
The Swiss Army knife has been around for more than 100 years.
The Swiss Army knife is the original multi-tool. Its development came about in 1891, when a company called Karl Elsener (which became Victorinox) began to produce the Modell 1890 knife for the Swiss Army. Of course, today’s knife, with its magnifying glass, scissors, nail file, two blades and often much more, bears little resemblance to the original. It only had a spear point blade, a can opener, a reamer and a screwdriver.
But Levi’s jeans are almost 20 years older than the Swiss Army knife.
The Levi Strauss & Co. business was founded in 1853. That was when Levi Strauss emigrated from Bavaria to San Francisco to open a branch of his brother’s business. Just 20 years later, in 1873, Strauss and a tailor, Jacob Davis, jointly filed a patent for work trousers made out of denim, with rivets to increase their strength. That patent was for the world’s first pair of blue jeans.
The Thonet bentwood chair is so old, you didn’t know it was a particular design.
The Model 14 bentwood chair just looks like a bog-standard wooden dining chair, but in fact, it is a particular design that is still manufactured by the Gebrüder Thonet company – though they call it the Model 214. It is a simple design and easy to manufacture, as it only has six main parts, and that could explain its enduring popularity since its debut in 1859.
The Aga was born in the Jazz Age.
Many of us think of Aga cookers as quintessentially British, but in fact it was invented in Sweden by physicist and Nobel Prize winner Gustaf Dalen. Between 1924 and 1929, he invented and perfected the cooker that continuously heats a home, making it perfect for countries with cold, damp weather and who love slow-cooked foods like roasts. No wonder the British adopted it so enthusiastically.
Times New Roman is well past pension age.
Times New Roman is the very definition of “default”. It has been one of the main default fonts in Word and other word processing programs since personal computers have been around. Still, the font was mainstream well before computers. It was developed by Stanley Morison and Victor Lardent and was first seen the Times newspaper on the 3rd of October, 1932, making it 81 years young.
The Burberry trench coat is over 130 years old.
Thomas Burberry invented gabardine, a water-resistant fabric, in 1879 – 134 years ago. The hard-wearing fabric quickly got the attention of the British Army, who commissioned Burberry to make officers’ coats out of the material. The coats were known as trench coats, and they became the product that built the fashion house we know today.
These ten classic designs are older than you think, but what sort of things do you think are surprisingly old?