What retro design would you like to see revived?

Last week, Apple hinted that it might be bringing back the flip-phone in smartphone form. We ask designers what retro designs they’d like to see revived.

Wayne Hemingway, founder and director, Hemingway Design
Wayne Hemingway, founder and director, Hemingway Design

“The only thing I miss from the past is a sense of public good, social justice and the knowledge that if you rolled your sleeves up you had a fair chance of doing better than your parents. So for starters, I would bring back council houses and bring back the Parker Morris Standards that allowed people to have liveable space standards, and helped reign back avaricious developers.”


Chris Waggott, founding director, Common Works
Chris Waggott, founding director, Common Works

“I would love to see the iconic JVC Videosphere from 1970 revived. With its aesthetic heavily influenced by the fascination with the space race and the moon landing, the Videosphere has become a kind of shorthand for retro futurism. The swivelling space helmet-shaped television was the first TV to be designed as a secondary set for use in a teenager’s bedroom. It also had some great accessories such as a carry chain and battery pack so you could watch your favourite shows in ‘places that don’t have electrical outlets, like the beach.’” 


Ian Whatley, design director, Seymourpowell
Ian Whatley, design director, Seymourpowell

“Recently I visited the Deutsches Spionagemuseum in Berlin – a fantastic retrospective collection of the ingenious and bizarre gadgets used by Cold War agents and secret services. This includes the infamous Bulgarian Umbrella, Disappearing Ink Pens, even a Lipstick Pistol. The highlight was the Minox Spy Camera. A technological marvel when launched in 1939, it’s still a masterpiece today. I’d love to see a revival of its simple aesthetic beauty, complemented by the emotional engagement from such a satisfying, addictive mechanism. I wonder what amazing spy gadgets are being used right now in the modern era where physical and digital technologies combine?”


James Greenfield, founder, Koto
James Greenfield, founder, Koto

“Demand outstripping supply is normally a good barometer of the validity of a design. Against the backdrop of the UK housing market’s overheating, lies one such well designed product – the Victorian house. Often built in a manner which shames the last 60 years of housing stock, this design has never been more coveted. Big rooms, beautiful details, plenty of storage and a unique character, results in them arguably being more popular than they were when originally built. Mass market house builders should learn from this premium design and build something akin to it, as a premium product almost always commands a premium price, as Apple shows time and time again.”


What retro design would you like to see revived? Let us know in the comments section below.

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  • Neil Littman December 12, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Good piece. Shame you only had three contributers. Think it could have been quite a debate. The mention of the JVC Videosphere might explain why there are still 9,800 TVs in the UK with black and white licences. Also I don’t even think they have one of these TVs in the Design Museum. They still look really cool! I would nominate my Sonty digital stereo minidisc recorder from about 20 years ago. Top quality live recording if you had the right microphone.

  • Nick Webb December 12, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    I would like to see the Hillman Imp return, innovation, simplicity, and you could tell what each bit of the engine actually did!

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