Are there any defining characteristics of English design? Over the thousands of years of design in England, to choose the common-threads of design and what objects best-exemplify this is obviously open to debate, and fraught with the risk of straying towards blind patriotism and jingoism. That is not my intention - I'm not saying these characteristics are necessarily positive. It's also intrinsically skewed towards the last 50 years, as there have been more items manufactured and styled (rather than just 'made') in this period than in the whole of history before that. But, caveats and disclaimers noted, I still believe there are national traits of style that can be identified.

As a strating-point here's a list of words that I can think of that define English style. On its own each word isn't unique to English style, but taken as a whole I think they're a good start. I'll add and amend to the list over time:

Strong, full, curved, soft, heavy, formal, simple, classical, conservative, subversive, elegant, luxury, comfort, restrained, refined, discreet, warm.

And here's some products that I think define English style:

  • GEC 706 Series Telephone
  • Austin/Morris Mini
  • Avro Vulcan
  • Concorde
  • The Beatles
  • 'Blower' Bentley
  • Bush DAC90A
  • Bush TR82
  • Dualit Toaster
  • Bowler Hat
  • Routemaster Bus
  • Rover P5B Coupe
  • K2 Telephone Kiosk
  • Supermarine Spitfire
  • Thatched Cottage
  • Tweed and Canvas


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