things that didn’t happen: Ken Grange edition

I have just been reading the catalogue for the Design Museum’s exhibition on Kenneth Grange. An interesting thought – he makes the very good point that the problem with both the matt-black Apple laptops and the iDevices is that they soak up oil and fingerprints and human grease in general. This is of course the case of all touchscreens – they’re reflective surfaces, so the filth shows, and people touch them. When I lived in Coop Himmelb(l)au’s Gasometer B development the management had placed some tablet PCs (it was just being a thing then) around the public spaces for people to fiddle with. Of course, the screens were practically black with gunk all the time.

As far as the matt black element goes, apparently he copied an idea from Braun and had the mouldings spun in a drum with walnut shells, slightly roughing up the texture and letting the walnut oil soak in, excluding anything else from going the same way. Not something to try with the touch screen, obviously.

So, I wonder, what would a post-iPhone user interface pattern be like? Also, oddly enough, in all his myriad projects over the years, Grange has never done a mobile phone. He did some really amazing designs for Reuters trader terminals, so much so that a casemod almost seems justified. But Psion in the 1980s, Ericsson or Motorola in the 1990s, or Nokia in the 2000s never apparently asked. It would probably have had at least one oversized orange GO button – a constant in his work.

Although perhaps not an extra large number 5.


  1. Matt McG

    Agfa, in the late 70s built this:

    http://cameras.alfredklomp.com/optima1535/

    which is very reminiscent of the famous Braun calculator and similar designs and does indeed have a big orange Go button.

  2. It has that sort of feeling that you’re already used to the user interface – a nostalgia for the future – that Grange was so good at. (Actually my grandad Pete had a lot of Agfa photo kit, almost all of which had a big orange GO button.)




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