08 November 2013

Ekco & Sir Misha Black

Amongst the architect-designers engaged by Eric Kirkham Cole to design Ekco's Bakelite radio cabinets was (later Sir) Misha Black. Azerbaijan-born, Black came to England aged two. His design for Ekco's AC/DC UAW78 of 1937, pictured, evinces shades of Ellis, Clarke and Williams's 1932 Daily Express Building in Fleet Street, London, with its round corners in vitrolite and clear glass, an icon of Art Deco architecture. Original price £11.0s.6d. A battery version (BAW78) and an accumulator/vibrator version (BV78) were also available.

In 1943 Black founded, with Milner Gray, Design Research Unit, one of the first practices to address itself to architecture, industrial design, and graphics. DRU had significant involvement with the 1951 Festival of Britain. Black developed the external styling of British Rail's Class 71 electric (1958), and Class 52 diesel (1961) locomotives; and designed Westminster's street name signs (1968) and the iconic geometric orange, black, yellow and brown moquette used on London Transport seating (late 1978).

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