What do you think is the best designed household object from the past 150 years?

The Design Museum is holding an exhibition of key John Lewis products to mark the store’s 150th anniversary. We ask designers what they think is the best-designed household object from the past 150 years.

Wayne Hemingway

‘My favourite household object must be the rotary airer. No matter how small the space outside your home, there is room for this fold-up baby. The four-arm version gives you enough feet of line to let the breeze go to work on four large bath towels, two face cloths, a headscarf, two knitted jerkins, a twinset, three pairs of slacks, a dozen pairs of underpants or knickers (or combination of the two), ten pairs of socks, six brassieres, a pair of longjohns, various tea towels depicting holiday destinations or the British royal family, a set of king-size bedsheets and a selection of babygros.’

Wayne Hemingway, co-founder, Hemingway Design

George Singer

‘I believe the best household object of the last 150 years is the paper clip. The paperclip is made from a single piece of material, with one manufacturing process, which does an important job extremely well. It’s a cult object that has blended into society and exists in homes all over the world. They are pure function and are so elegantly designed that they’re taken for granted and seen as not having been designed at all!’

George Singer, bespoke chandelier and lighting designer

Bethan Gray

‘My favourite designs are the Kristian Vedel family of birds, designed in 1959. These are a family of children, parents and grandparents which were handmade by a small wood turner in Denmark who only used high quality smoked and natural oak wood. By tilting their heads in virtually any direction, the Birds express every emotion, from happy to sad, and state of mind from curious to alert. I love the beautiful natural materials used,  the quality of the craftsmanship and the longevity through the timeless design.’

Bethan Gray, furniture/product designer

Jay Tunbridge

‘The “Flip” or Solari Clock. My very first new home purchase was a reproduction of the original Italian designed Cifra series created in 1957 by Fermo Solari, brother of Remigio Solari who invented the Solari board – arrival/departure boards still evident today in rail and air terminals worldwide. Design features include; clear visibility without the need for lighting; little power is needed for the “flip” due to gravity pull and almost no power required when still; fault-tolerant in power cuts; and of course – beautifully typeset. When the clock strikes noon and midnight the heavy sound of the analogue “flip” adds a certain “non se che” to a home!’

Jay Tunbridge, creative director, Designhouse

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  • Ric Vieira November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    ah, the A rotary airer or Hills Hoist, (the ultimate Australian invention?) manufactured in Adelaide, SA since mid 1940s…

  • Darren Raven November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    For me it would be the REX peeler – effective, simple and very affordable. http://www.zena-swiss.com/en/products/rex

  • Edward Murphy September 8, 2014 at 6:27 am

    What about the electric light bulb. It was this that caused the proliferation of electricity into the domestic house. The design of the tungstun filament lamp is so elegent.

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