Design Centre Awards Scheme

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Brian O'Rorke (1901—1974)

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The Council of Industrial Design (See Design Council) launched its annual Design Centre Awards Scheme in 1957, very much in line with general principles of the Italian Compasso D'Oro awards scheme instituted three years earlier. The first panel of judges included Richard Godden, Dick Russell, Brian O'Rorke, Milner Gray, and Astrid Sampe and selected twelve exemplars of the best of contemporary British design. The first winners included Robin Day, for a sofa bed manufactured by Hille and a television set made by Pye, Lucienne Day for her Imperial Axminster carpet produced by Tomkinsons, David Mellor for his Pride cutlery manufactured by Walker & Hall, and John and Sylvia Read for a lampshade made by Rotaflex. In 1959 the annual Design Centre Awards were augmented by the Duke of Edinburgh's Prize for Elegant Design which, in its first year, was won by C. W. F. Longman for a Packaway refrigerator made by Prestcold. Its pristine, white form, devoid of pattern or stylistic features exemplified the ‘Good Design’ aesthetic favoured by many at the COID during these years and was very much opposed to the ephemeral styling features of contemporary American domestic products. Over the years the range of products included in the Design Centre Awards Scheme was extended in line with the wider outlook of the COID. Such awards included street lighting columns designed by Richard Stevens and P. Rodd (1960), a pay‐on‐answer telephone box by Douglas Scott (1962), and hospital wall lights by Roger Brockbank (1965), all reflecting a tendency that led to the establishment of a Capital Goods Section of the Design Awards in 1967. These included a Hy‐Mac Excavator designed for Peter Hamilton Equipment (1967), a Sentinel diesel shunting locomotive by Rolls‐Royce (1968), and the Boss Mark III range of fork‐lift trucks by Lancer Boss (1970). The Awards Scheme lasted until 1988 when it was felt by many that it had run its course as a model for emulation.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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