Kenneth Grange

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British Rail's Intercity 125 train, British Rail Class 43 (HST), designed by Kenneth Grange, first came into service in 1976 and is still in extensive use.

Sir Kenneth Henry Grange, CBE, PPFCSD, RDI (born 17 July 1929, London)[1] is a British industrial designer.

Grange’s career began as a drafting assistant with the architect Jack Howe in the 1950s. His independent career started rather accidentally with commissions for exhibition stands, but by the early 1970s he was a founding-partner in Pentagram, an interdisciplinary design consultancy.

Grange's career has spanned more than half a century, and many of his designs became – and are still – familiar items in the household or on the street.[2] These designs include the first UK parking meters for Venner, food mixers for Kenwood, razors for Wilkinson Sword, cameras for Kodak, typewriters for Imperial, clothes irons for Morphy Richards, cigarette lighters for Ronson, washing machines for Bendix, and pens for Parker.[3] He was also responsible for the aerodynamics, interior layout and exterior styling of the nose cone of British Rail's famous High Speed Train (known as the InterCity 125[4]) and also involved in the design of the innovative 1997 TX1 version of the famous London taxi-cab. He has carried out many commissions for Japanese companies.

In 1986 he co-chaired a conference with furniture entrepreneur Rosamind Julius in Aspen, Colorado. The conference celebrated British design and it was attended by painter David Hockney and the architect Norman Foster.[5] The conference was credited withy launching the careers of Hockney, Foster, the fashion designer Bruce Oldfield and the Spitting Image artists.[6]

One quality of much of Grange’s design work is that it is not based on just the styling of a product. His design concepts arise from a fundamental reassessment of the purpose, function and use of the product. He has also said that his attitude to designing any product is that he wants it to be "a pleasure to use".[7] Grange was a pioneer of user-centred design, in seeking to eliminate what he sees as the "contradictions" inherent in products that fail to embody ease-of-use.[8]

Kenneth Grange's Kodak Instamatic camera (c. 1963)

Grange's designs have won ten Design Council Awards, the Duke of Edinburgh’s prize for Elegant Design in 1966, and in 2001 he was awarded the Prince Philip Designers Prize[9] – an award honouring a lifetime achievement. He has won the Gold Medal of the Chartered Society of Designers, and is a member of the Royal Society of Arts’ élite Faculty of ‘Royal Designers for Industry’. Grange has been awarded honorary Doctorate degrees by the Royal College of Art, De Montfort University, Plymouth University and the Open University.

Since retiring from Pentagram in 1997, Grange continues to work independently. Recent work has included door handles for ize Ltd., desk and floor lamps for Anglepoise, and a chair for the elderly for Hitch Mylius [2]. The Design Museum held a major retrospective exhibition of Grange's work, July–October 2011.[10]

The RSA site has an audio recording of Kenneth Grange in a discussion of his work.[11] There is also a video interview with Kenneth Grange discussing his design of the Signature Diamond loudspeakers for Bowers & Wilkins on their website.[12]

Grange was knighted for services to design in the 2013 New Year Honours.[13][14]


  1. ^ "People of Today Index, People of Today, People | Debrett's". Retrieved 2015-09-19. 
  2. ^ Edwin Heathcote, "Everywhere and nowhere", Collecting special, Financial Times, 28 May 2011. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
  3. ^ Kenneth Grange at the Boilerhouse: An Exhibition of British Product Design, The Conran Foundation/Boilerhouse Project (V&A Museum), London, 1983.
  4. ^ Julian May "The 125 at 30", BBC News, 15 September 2006. Retrieved 3 march 2009.
  5. ^ Smyth, Andrew. "Rosamind Julius: Award-winning furniture maker who helped introduce post-war Britain to modern design". The Independent. Retrieved 7 October 2015. 
  6. ^ Richard Snell, ‘Julius , Rosamind (1923–2010)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Jan 2014 accessed 24 Sept 2015
  7. ^ Cross, N (2001) "Achieving Pleasure From Purpose: the methods of Kenneth Grange, product designer", The Design Journal, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 48-58.
  8. ^ Cross, N (2011) Design Thinking: Understanding How Designers Think and Work, Berg, Oxford and New York, chapter 3.
  9. ^ Prince Philip Designers Prize, Design Council
  10. ^ The Design Museum (2011) Kenneth Grange: Making Britain Modern, Black Dog Publishing, London.
  11. ^ [1] Archived June 8, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Exclusive interview with iconic product designer Kenneth Grange | Society of Sound". Retrieved 2015-09-19. 
  13. ^ "Knights Bachelor" (PDF). Cabinet Office. 29 December 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  14. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60367. p. 1. 29 December 2012.