May 4, 2006

Makings of a Classic

An interview with Phaidon editor Emilia Terragni about his new three-volume Phaidon Design Classics turned up Tuesday on digg. Accompanying the interview is a slideshow of twelve Designs That Never Get Old, consumer products from the last century that fit Phaidon’s definition of classic design. Among these are the table-top Kikkoman bottle and London’s familiar double-decker Routemaster Bus.

The interview and slideshow are themselves pretty interesting. But more exciting as a piece of found history is the long thread of vistor comments that follows the initial digg post. There digg users debate different definitions of “classic” and argue the merits of their own favorite industrial artifacts, including lots of vintage cars (Studebaker Hawk, 1961 Lincoln Continental, BMW 2002, Mazda Miata), a few firearms (Colt Single Action Army, Winchester 94), and a bunch of ordinary household objects (the fortune cookie, the zipper, the jelly bean, the slinky, the push-pin, the Michelob beer bottle). It’s worth a few minutes to see how deeply these people are thinking about the relationship between old and new and the pace and meanings of historical change.

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