Red telephone box tops list of British designs

The classic red K2 phone box first appeared on the streets of London in 1926. Picture: PA
The classic red K2 phone box first appeared on the streets of London in 1926. Picture: PA
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IT IS an everyday object that over the decades has become a cultural icon in its own right as a visual shorthand for Britain and Britishness.

The classic K2 red telephone box has beaten the world famous Routemaster double-decker bus and the Union Flag to be voted as the greatest British design of all time, according to a new study.

The Spitfire fighter plane, the Rolls Royce and the classic London taxi also made the top ten in a national poll.

The survey also features historic creations such as the classic Saville Row suit, along with more recent designs such as the London Olympic Torch.

Of those questioned, more than two-thirds, or 69 per cent, said that designs like the Spitfire, London Eye and Wembley stadium made them proud to be British.

Three in four participants said that home-grown creations such classic 1970s designs as the Raleigh Chopper bike, Concorde and Dr Martens boots made them feel nostalgic.

Designed by designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the classic red K2 phone box first appeared on the streets of London in 1926. A commonplace sight throughout the UK, the final design was the result of a nationwide competition held by the Royal Fine Art Commission to come up with a suitable kiosk.

Perhaps best known for its striking colouring, Sir Giles had originally suggested silver, with a “greeny-blue” interior, but this was rejected in preference for what is officially known as “Currant Red”.

Though still in general use across the UK, production of the phone box was cancelled in 1985 by which pointmore than 73,000 had been deployed.

As a piece of design, the red telephone box has transcended its utilitarian roots, even being used by Scottish sculptor David Mach to create the piece Out of Order, which consisted of 12 boxes toppled against each other.

The survey also found out that 77 per cent of Britons believed that as a nation we are still producing great home-grown British designs.

Design expert Professor Catherine McDermott led a panel of judges to create a longlist of great British designs, which was then put to a national poll of 2,000 Britons.

The director of curating contemporary design at London’s Kingston University, was commissioned by Samsung to conduct the study to celebrate the launch of the Galaxy S6.

Conor Pierce, vice president of IT & Mobile Samsung UK and Ireland, said: “Great design is the marriage of form and function, creating something that is both stylish and useful.

“It’s fascinating to see how the combination of curves and straight edges give designs a timeless, classic feel – in fact none of the designs in our list have aged at all.”

‘The Samsung Galaxy S6 Great British Design Study’ discovered that three-quarters of us think design is important when choosing a phone.

Also featured in the list are fashion design icons such as the miniskirt, Burberry trench coat and Wellington boots.


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