Which 20th century product would you like to see get a 21st century makeover?

In light of Nintendo designing a miniature version of its Nintendo Entertainment System – first released back in 1983 – we asked designers what other modern classic products they would like to see given a 21st Century overhaul.

Paul Priestman_photograph by Fran Monks_email
Paul Priestman, designer and chairman at PriestmanGoode

Aside from everything that has happened politically over the last month, I’ve always found it strange that the UK is at the very centre of the €1 and €2 coins, despite the fact that we never adopted the currency.

The UK of course remains part of Europe, even if it will no longer be in the European Union. But the Euro coin, as any mint currency around the world, should present a more accurate representation of its geographical spread.


Jenny Theolin, creative partner at Studio Theolin
Jenny Theolin, creative partner at Studio Theolin

Let’s go for big, clunky and impractical: the juke box. Many 20th Century revamps have resulted in designing things smaller, streamlined and minimal. I’d like to see the opposite for a change. I don’t mean an app-version or a mini digital version of a juke box (I’m sure they exist), I want to get up and properly juke!

Remember the pure joy of sifting through atrocious music choices, deciding on a pretty crap song, yet feeling ecstatic when it (eventually) came on? I would like to relive that experience. Look at how popular Photo Booths are in Berlin, and pin-ball machines are still thriving (there’s even an Angry Bird one). So, here’s to crap music choices, and dancing like no one’s looking.


Sebastian Conran, creative director at Sebastian Conran Associates. Photo by Matt Austin
Sebastian Conran, creative director at Sebastian Conran Associates. Photo by Matt Austin

Practically every consumer product in our world has got smaller, but noticeable exceptions are TV screens which have got larger and better quality, and cars which have got larger and heavier, taking up more space on the road and using more fuel than they would if they were smaller.

The BMW Mini is a prime example of what was once a miracle of space management, that has now bloated into what 50 years ago would have been a medium sized family car.

What would be really wonderful (and maybe commercially attractive) would be to look at remaking the Mini to its original dimensions, but using modern materials and technology to make it safer, more efficient and better than it ever was.


Erika Clegg, co-founder of Spring
Erika Clegg, co-founder of Spring

The original Saab 900 turbo convertible. More specifically, the Monte Carlo yellow special edition. Sharp at both ends, self-assured and happy, it’s a glorious car to look at. It was ahead of its time mechanically and – for a car of that age – is comfortable, with well-designed leather seats and decent internal space for a convertible.

I fell in love with it as a copywriting intern at KHBB on Charing Cross Road and pledged that one day I’d have one. And I do – a J reg, bought on eBay. It drives like running in trainers three times too large, drinks fuel like a tired mum on Prosecco and my hood’s stopped working.

I’d love it to be reissued with a great fuel-efficient engine, modern electronics and properly engineered body/chassis arrangement – but don’t anybody change the body shape. GM did, and it just wasn’t a 900.


Pat Fehy, creative director at Seymourpowell
Pat Fehy, creative director at Seymourpowell

Straight out of art college in 1991 I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a little black & white Mac Classic – in fact I’ve still got it! It was also around the same time I first played on the Nintendo NES.

Since then I’ve always seen Nintendo as the Apple of the gaming consoles. So in a similar vein, albeit very cute, tiny, not connected to the internet and with a limited number of games, I’d like to see Apple reproduce the black & white, connected to the internet version of the Mac Classic (Prince of Persia included).


Andy Giddings, design director at Here Design
Andy Giddings, design director at Here Design

The Contax T2 35mm point & shoot film camera. In an age of VSCO filters and pixel peeping, an affordable reissue of this beautifully simple, well built and well equipped pocket film camera would be a breath of fresh (1990’s) air. No need to make it over – just reissue it in all its glory to the same spec including the Zeiss lens.

Latest articles