What do a Kenwood Chef food mixer, an Anglepoise lamp, a black cab and a high-speed train have in common? They were all designed by Sir Kenneth Grange, we discovered in last night’s season finale of Secrets of the Museum. You may not recognise his name, but Grange’s modern, elegant designs – from pens to parking meters – have touched our daily lives. And now he’s donating his incredible body of work to the V&A.
An archivist’s dream, Sir Kenneth has kept at least one example of each product he’s designed over 6 decades. Christopher Marsden has the enviable job of deciding which objects from Grange’s archive will feature in a new display at V&A East Storehouse. Read an interview with Sir Kenneth Grange here, or take a look at other classics of post-war British design.
From a master of modernism, to a leading light of the Renaissance, episode 6 also spotlighted the museum’s collection of sculptures by Donatello, several of which are currently being prepped for an international tour – following a thorough-but-careful clean by our conservation experts. The museum has one of the most important collections of Renaissance sculptures outside of Italy. Explore more examples here, or try our Conservation playlist to see more painstaking restoration projects.
Elsewhere in the Conservation studio, Gesa Werner is making a mannequin fit for a queen – Queen Elizabeth II in fact, as played by Dame Helen Mirren in the 2013 stage production of The Audience. The costume, once worn by Helen Mirren, is conserved and mounted on a specially adapted mannequin, before being inspected by legendary costume designer Bob Crowley. Crowley shares his inspiration for the design – a photograph by Cecil Beaton of the young Elizabeth II, wearing a gown by royal couturier Sir Norman Hartnell. You can explore more of Cecil Beaton’s royal portraits, or read an extract from Norman Hartnell’s autobiography.
Meanwhile up in V&A Dundee, multidisciplinary artist Yinka Ilori is creating a massive musical maze – a supersized installation inspired by children’s play. Ilori is famous for transforming public spaces with bold, colourful architectural structures, influenced by his Nigerian heritage: “I love being British and I love being Nigerian so fusing those worlds together is super powerful”, he says. Listening to Joy, the artist’s first Scottish installation, is now open – find out more at V&A Dundee. And if you’d like to see more child-centred design, keep up to date with our plans for Young V&A, our national museum dedicated to young people.
That’s it for this series! We hope you loved peeking behind our doors once again. The full series is now available to watch on BBC iPlayer, happy viewing!