The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

They Say ‘Design For Life’, Not ‘Advertise For Life’ For A Reason …
August 11, 2011, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

Despite my wife being a designer – and a bloody good one – quite a lot of the people who work within that discipline get right on my tits.

It’s not the work they produce, it’s the over–inflated justification, rationale and success they continuously claim that makes me want to kill.

I know planners have an amazing capacity to talk complete and utter bollocks, but when you hear the shit people like Peter Arnell spout in the name of ‘design strategy’, you know designers are in a different league.

Anyway, I recently read an interview with a guy called Kenneth Grange that reminded me not everyone in the design industry acts this way.

OK, given he’s 82 years of age, it’s fair to say he’s hardly part of the modern design scene, however given he’s possibly one of the most influential designers of the past 50 years – even though you probably have never heard of him, as I hadn’t till I read his article – he’s more than worth listening to, if only to remember that designers often create the sort of long-lasting solutions, adland can only dream about.



Kenneth Grange is the most influential designer you’ve never heard of. says Rachel Cooke in The Observer.

The 82year old is determinedly modest about his creations which include such iconic objects as the `968 Kodak Instamatic camera, the Kenwood Chef, the London Taxi [which he remodelled in 1997] and – his personal favourite – the Intercity 125 train.

“I was only supposed to redesign the paintwork” he recalls, “… but for my own amusement I decided to have a go at the shame too. It was a bloody nerve to be honest. If I’d been on the British Rail Board I’d have told me to piss off”.

But the new, aerodynamic shape made the trains more efficient – and 35 years on, they are still running.

Now he’s working on his first chair design.

It will, he promises, be “bloody comfortable … modern furniture is always too low and getting off it is a bugger”.


If only more people in design – and adland – could be more like him, both in terms of his ability to create inspirational, iconic and effective work and his wonderfully down-to-earth and modest attitude.

Mr Grange, I salute you and I hope the design industry bow down to you.

PS: Lauren, this is the article I mentioned to you on Twitter

42 Comments so far
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ive heard of him. ive fucking met him. ive made him a cup of strong tea and theres few fuckers id do that for.

fucking legend.

Comment by andy@cynic

Especially a man.

When did you meet him and why didn’t I get to meet him?

Comment by Rob

why didnt you get to meet the man? because i like the man and didnt want to scare him the fuck away.

Comment by andy@cynic

to compare him and arnell is like comparing the amalfi coast with skegfuckingness. and its raining in skegness. on a cold, miserable and defuckingpressing tuesday night.

look at me, im waxing fucking lyrical.

Comment by andy@cynic

“remember designers often create the sort of long-lasting solutions, adland can only dream about.”

only if theyre not fuckwits which is why kenneth has got to do so much good shit because the majority of the bastards are.

Comment by andy@cynic

this post has pleased me. yes campbell, youve written something i like without my fucking help. call your mum, she finally has something to be proud about her son.

Comment by andy@cynic

My mum is jumping for joy. And possibly surprise.

Comment by Rob

He sounds like a great guy and I know why Andy likes him, because he sounds like him. Not made as many icons yet.

Your point about designers making the sort of impact and legacy advertising dreams about is true, but I don’t know if there are many designers today who would be allowed to create such a breadth of work with the industry becoming more and more segmented into specific areas of specialisation.

Kenneth seems to embody your generalist point of view for creativity and I understand why. Lovely post today Rob.

Comment by Bazza

glad you didnt say your ives chappy was like ken because all that fucker has done for the last 5 years is draw the same fucking ipod in different fucking shapes and give them another i fucking name. not quite the london fucking cab is it.

Comment by andy@cynic

As Dick Emery used to kind-of say, this comment is ‘naughty but nice’.

And yes, I do know Salman Rushdie wrote that line for the cream industry.

Cream industry!? How mad is that eh? If that was to happen today, it would be a 30″ montage of all the natural ingredients that goes in to cholesterol clogging – boring people to tears and not being memorable 30 years later.

Comment by Rob

thats because youre old enough to know who the fuck dick emery is.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’m not anti-specialist … as I’ve said before, I don’t want to be operated on by a generalist surgeon … but I agree that if Kenneth was starting today, the chances he would be involved in the creation of so many iconic products – across so many industries – would probably be far less given our preoccupation with segmenting capabilities into ultra niche territories. Which is probably why so much ends up looking the same these days.

Comment by Rob


Comment by andy@cynic

Maybe Ken could design an economy that looks better than the one we’ve got. Even something resembling his 125 train would be better than what we’ve got. Even a 125 train run by British rail would be better than what we’ve got. Just.

Comment by DH

I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Kenneth Grange and it was one of the best experiences of my life. As positive as this post and article are, they only convey a fraction of this wonderful mans talent and grace. We need more Kenneth’s but I fear our industry has organised itself to filter them out.

Comment by George

i met him first and i introduced him to you. what is it with planners owning all their fucking best times to me. ive said it before and ill say it again. im a fucking saint.

Comment by andy@cynic

You’ve met him as well!!! When. And why?

Comment by Rob

“It’s amusing to go fast, but it’s not important.”
Kenneth Grange was on my list of people I wanted to meet when I moved from Ireland to London in 1965. And I did.
He is still on my list of the ten people I most admire in advertising/design.

Comment by Ciaran McCabe

where the fuck have you been ciaran. how the fuck did you get away with not having to come to this shithole when i did?

good job you swear like a bastard, dont give a fuck about planners and have met el ken or you might be off my fucking christmas card list and that would make you want to give up living. when did you meet him and where? did he offer you tea or water. ive been told it tells you a fucking lot about what he thinks of you.

Comment by andy@cynic

He sounds quite the character. I’d love to know more about how he went from designing a train he wasn’t asked to design to having it made. I wonder if it’s like your Vietnam moped, balls, luck and commercial nous.

Comment by Pete

campbells case was luck and giving them the impression he was connected to the mafia so if they said no theyd end up with a head like his.

thats the sort of fucking threat that could make america turn commie.

Comment by andy@cynic

Couldn’t compete with you.
On that list of the 10 people I most admire in advertising is the mailman at BBDO in the early 70’s who was an amazing person. Captured at Dunkirk, marched to a camp in Germany, helping to maintain the German’s rail line, continuing to fuck it up, was informed on (not just him, the group), found the informed and drowned him in a cesspit, and loved a pint of Fuller’s at lunchtime. One of the most alive people I’ve ever known.
I think Kenneth Grange would consider him a soul brother.

Comment by Ciaran McCabe

you mean you admire someone who hasnt won a cannes fucking gold or spoken at some campaign magazine piss up?

what sort of twisted motherfucking human are you?

Comment by andy@cynic

Beating the nazis is nothing compared to writing the Old Spice campaign.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Spoken like a true adman. Well done Billy.

Comment by Rob

I have also met Kenneth Grange, so it would appear the Observer should retract their comment and replace it with”the most influential designer many have heard of.”

That aside, it’s a very nice article on one of the most interesting and generous gentlemen I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. I am sure he would say you are being unfair with your comment about the ego of the advertising industry, however I think it is entirely justified.

Comment by Lee Hill

Well obviously I am as out of date with my designers of repute as some of you claim I am with my choice of music, clothing and pretty much everything in-between.

I’ll go hang my head in shame and never talk about this again.

Comment by Rob

I haven’t heard of him, but I’m from the North, we’ve only just realised Wham have split

Comment by northern

I’ve never mer Kenneth Grange but I did accost a buch of pensioners to ask who the hell Dick Emery was. They told me he was a sexist cross-dressing comedy cliche and that he never said “naughty but nice”.

Googling suggests the phrase comes from someone called Dora Bryan in a Cadbury’s ad campaign from the 60s!


Comment by John

oh, you are naughty, John.

Comment by Marcus

how the fuck are you. you have been missed and i dont say that about many fuckers on here. or anyfuckingwhere.

Comment by andy@cynic

you must be talking to a bunch of altzfuckinghiemer ridden pensioners because emery said that wank in a fuck load of benny hill style bullshit ads throughout the fucking 70s.

or you spoke to some fucking northerners whove just just got television. and found out wham have split.

theyre going to have a shit attack when they found out the kebab selling lead singer is gay.

Comment by andy@cynic

try googling “i dont know how to fucking google” because it said emery and mrs rushdie when i did it and i dont even know what the internet fucking is.

Comment by andy@cynic

The pensioners dont move fast so I was able to catch them up and ask them. They checked their smartphones and said salman rushdie wrote the ad after being inspired by emery but a bunch of other people actually appeared in the ads.

Comment by John

they were fucking chav looters in fucking disguise. and you let them get away. bastard.

Comment by andy@cynic

i cant fucking believe im talking about a shit ad from a shit decade from a shit religious defamer. fucking campbells fault as per fucking usual. and emery voiced the line at the end. the cash kept him in the style he wasnt fucking entitled to enjoy. like mike shitty fucking yarwood. the crappest impressionist since bush pretended to be a fucking politician.

Comment by andy@cynic

I cant believe a bunch of pensioners are correcting a giant of the advertising and construction industries but they say it was from the another crap decade the 80s , that the tag-line was voiced by many different people. and that emery died in early 83 so the style was short-lived.

Comment by John

reminds me of campbell and auntie and those pensioners are fucking smart bastards arent they. well at least the rushdie bollocks was entirely right, the rest i blame on campbell. good work inspector dodds. prick.

Comment by andy@cynic

Those trains are iconic, the bull nose shape defined modern rail travel for over a decade.

As we well know, in most cases the more explanation you need the worse your work is.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

iconic. ahead of their fucking time (for britain) and always shit, late, expensive and unable to fucking run when there were leaves on the track or some other shit.

not kenneths fault, he did his fucking part, all down to good old british engineering and the worlds shittest rail service. how we won the war is any fuckers guess, we cant even riot properly.

Comment by andy@cynic

We didn’t win the war, Uncle Sam, or at least that’s what they think

Comment by northern

fucking turncoat. youll say the spitfire was made by boeing next.

Comment by andy@cynic

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