DT06 – Nicholas Oddy

For our sixth Design & Technology lecture we had a talk from Nicholas Oddy (Head of Department of Design History & Theory at the GSA). Nicholas’s aim was to talk to us about the definition of ‘great design’ and it was definitely one of the most informative and engaging talks that we have had yet!

The first point that Nicholas made which I found particularly interesting, was his view that as students we all have a date, by this he meant that the products and designs that we think are ‘great’ will most likely be from a certain time period, and this may be different to the products and designs that Nicholas considers to be ‘great’. This is due our differences in age and interests. Not to say that I would disagree with his choices of ‘great design’ or he would disagree with mine, but it’s our awareness of different designs from different time periods that differs.

Nicholas’s selection of ‘great designs’ consisted of things like the Fourth Rail Bridge, VW Beetle, Dyson G-Force, Ford Model T and 1993 Cold-Spot Refrigerator to name a few.


And with his selections of products that he considered ‘great design’, he asked the question; What, about each of them is ‘great’?. Is it the design of the product itself, the designer, the manufacturing process or the impact that it has made on society?

Another ‘great design’ that Nicholas touched upon was British road signs. I couldn’t agree with him more on this one. British road signs are true examples of  ‘great’, ‘timeless’ design!


I recently wrote a post on Airport Signs which explains my huge appreciation for this sort of graphic design.

To summarise, I found this talk from Nicholas Oddy extremely interesting and informative. It really made me consider why I believe that something is ‘great design’ from a completely different stand point.

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