Street life

Post-boxes, traffic lights and bus shelters may not be the usual stuff of exhibitions.

Pedestrian Signal Box  1965 - 1969
Pedestrian Signal Box 1965 – 1969

But as many shows, such as last year’s Design Museum Extraordinary Stories about Ordinary Things, prove, just because an object is somewhat pedestrian, that doesn’t mean it can’t be a brilliant, iconic piece of design.

David Mellor
David Mellor

This September, the David Mellor Design Museum’s new permanent Street Scene exhibition will open, celebrating Mellor’s street furniture designs.

Outdoor Seating 1962
Outdoor Seating 1962

Featuring pieces such as 1965-9 traffic lights and signal boxes, the Abacus street lighting column and the shelved designs for a square pillar post box, the pieces showcase the designer’s aim to improve everyday public street scenes.

Square Pillar Box  1966
Square Pillar Box 1966

The show will be housed in the woodland area of the museum in Hathersage in the Peak District National Park.

Traffic Light Prototype 1965
Traffic Light Prototype 1965

One of the most recognisable designs is the 1965 redesign of the traffic lights, which were commissioned as part of the total redesign of the national road traffic sign system in the 1960s. An estimated 25,000 sets of these traffic lights are still in use today.

Galvanised Steel Litter Bin 1957
Galvanised Steel Litter Bin 1957

A less visible design is Mellor’s bright yellow galvanised steel litterbin, created in 1957. Dubbed the Top Hat Litter Bin, the piece echoes the optimistic, forward-thinking design aesthetic that was heralded in Festival of Britain era.

Abacus Bollards 1965
Abacus Bollards 1965

It’s impressive to think that such a widely used design as the Abacus Street Lighting column – the country’s first modern lighting column – were developed in Mellor’s final term at the RCA, in 1954.

Abacus Bus Shelter 1959
Abacus Bus Shelter 1959

David Mellor Street Scene opens on 8 September at the David Mellor Design Museum, The Round Building, Hathersage, Sheffield S32

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