Design

‘The Yucca Motel’, 1995, by Fred Sigman

Geoff Dyer on the poetry of motels

22 June 2019 9:00 am

It’s to be expected. You take photographs in order to document things — Paris in the case of Eugène Atget…

Toy theatres on the stage: the set designs of Maurice Sendak

1 June 2019 9:00 am

I must have seen hundreds of opera productions in my time. Out of these, hardly any made a lasting impression…

Plastic fantastic: British Industried Fair, 1948

How plastic saved the elephant and tortoise

1 June 2019 9:00 am

Plastics — even venerable, historically eloquent plastics — hardly draw the eye. As this show’s insightful accompanying publication (a snip…

Mary, Mary, quite contrary: Mary Quant and fellow-revolutionary Vidal Sassoon in 1964

My ringside seat on the Mary Quant revolution

30 March 2019 9:00 am

I think I probably qualify as the oldest fashion editor in the world, because in spite of my advanced age…

‘Wonderground Map of London Town’, 1914, by Max Gill

Not as good as his immoral brother Eric but still wonderful: Max Gill at Ditchling reviewed

16 February 2019 9:00 am

MacDonald ‘Max’ Gill (1884–1947) is less well known than his notorious brother, Eric. But was he less of a designer,…

Twiggy photographed by Justin de Villeneuve in the Rainbow Room at Big Biba, early 1970s. [JUSTIN DE VILLENEUVE]

A short history of art deco – from high art to two-tone shoes, garden gates to Twiggy

1 December 2018 9:00 am

On 10 September 1973 the 1930s Kensington High Street department store formerly known as Derry & Toms reopened as Big…

‘The Paston Treasure’, detail of a little girl, unknown artist, Dutch School, c. 1663

A historical whodunnit that lets you into a forgotten world: The Paston Treasure reviewed

1 September 2018 9:00 am

In 1675 Lady Bedingfield wrote to Robert Paston, first Earl of Yarmouth. Never, she exclaimed, had she seen anything so…

Volcano of invention: Alexander Calder at Hauser & Wirth Somerset

Alexander Calder was a volcano of invention

23 June 2018 9:00 am

In the Moderna Museet in Stockholm there is a sculpture by Katharina Fritsch, which references Chekhov’s famous story ‘Lady with…

Coloured proof from ‘English as She is Spoke’ by Pedro Carolino, 1960, by Edward Bawden

Edward Bawden is deservedly one of Britain’s most popular 20th century artists

9 June 2018 9:00 am

‘When I’m on good form,’ Edward Bawden told me, ‘I get to some point in the design and I laugh…

From left to right: embroidered linen jacket, 1620s; pine marten fur hat, Caroline Reboux, 1895; man’s silk waistcoat embroidered in silk with a pattern of macaque monkeys, 1780–89

This V&A show, about fashion’s fascination with the natural world, will seduce and appal

21 April 2018 9:00 am

One of the prettiest pieces in the V&A exhibition Fashioned from Nature is a man’s cream waistcoat, silk and linen,…

Hobbit houses and 3-D homes – everything about these videos should be intensely irritating

7 April 2018 9:00 am

Since 2006, someone called Kirsten Dirksen has been posting weekly videos on YouTube about ‘simple living, self-sufficiency, small (and tiny)…

Detail of ‘Riveters’ from the series ‘Shipbuilding on the Clyde’, 1941, by Stanley Spencer

Are cruise liners the solution to the housing crisis?

10 February 2018 9:00 am

Looking at the sketchbook of William Whitelock Lloyd, a soldier-artist who joined a P&O liner after surviving the Anglo-Zulu War,…

Draft of the first Ferrari car, 125 S, designed by Gioachino Colombo, 1945

Ferrari – heavy, expensive, wasteful, dangerous and addictive

20 January 2018 9:00 am

Has a more beautiful machine in all of mankind’s fretful material endeavours ever been made than a ’60 Ferrari 250…

Design everything for the disabled and you can’t go wrong

16 December 2017 9:00 am

About 30 years ago, BT introduced a telephone handset with enormous keys. It was intended for people with serious visual…

The making of a happy home: cold milk for tea. A 1930s advertisement for General Electric

How cool is your fridge?

9 December 2017 9:00 am

Mrs Thatcher once explained that she adored cleaning the fridge because, in a complicated life, it was one of the…

‘Regent’s Park Zoo’, 1930, by Arnrid Banniza Johnston

The forgotten history of the Tube’s ‘poster girls’

4 November 2017 9:00 am

Every weekday, I travel by Tube to The Spectator’s office, staring at the posters plastered all over the walls. I…

‘Soviet Union Art Exhibition’, Zurich 1931, by Valentina Kulagina

The art of persuasion

28 October 2017 9:00 am

It’s hard to admire communist art with an entirely clear conscience. The centenary of the October revolution, which falls this…

The old ways

28 October 2017 9:00 am

I’m sitting across a café table from a young man with a sheaf of drawings that have an archive look…

The art of the football shirt

28 October 2017 9:00 am

Part canvas, part sandwich board, club kits don’t always work – but their designs can be addictive

Perception vs objective reality

21 October 2017 9:00 am

I hate to tell you this, but every time you watch television you are being duped. In fact there are…

Man machine: Fritz Kahn’s ‘Der Mensch als Industrieplast’, 1926,which shows the body not so much as a sacred temple as as a churning and industrious factory

Vital signs

30 September 2017 9:00 am

Exhibit A. It is 1958 and you are barrelling down a dual carriageway; the 70 mph limit is still eight…

iPhone 8 Plus, unveiled last week at the new Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Headquarters, Cupertino, California. The new features include a Retina HD display, A11 Bionic Chip and wireless charging

iAddicts

23 September 2017 9:00 am

For many years The Spectator employed a television reviewer who did not own a colour television. Now they have decided…

Plywood at its most curvaceous, acceptable and collectible: Alvar Aalto armchair, 1930 (left), and moulded plywood chair by Grete Jalk, 1963

Grain of truth

8 July 2017 9:00 am

We routinely feel emotional about materials — often subliminally. Which is why new substances and techniques for manufacturing have provoked…

Britain is absent from the V&A’s new Europe galleries. Are they trying to tell us something?

9 January 2016 9:00 am

Before cheap flights, trains were the economical way to discover Europe and its foibles. Personally, I enjoyed the old fuss…

The rise and fall of Sony

12 December 2015 9:00 am

Here is a Japanese fairy tale for Christmas. An allegory of insight, opportunism and a fall from favour. It is…