David Mellor (1930 – 2009) British metalworker and manufacturer

Traffic Lights designed by David Mellor
Traffic Lights designed by David Mellor

David Mellor was a British artist, maker, craftsman, and retailer who lived from 1930 to 2009.

Mellor specialised in metalwork, especially cutlery, and was regarded as one of Britain’s most well-known designers. He also built bus shelters and the traffic light system that is currently in operation throughout the United Kingdom, British Crown Dependencies, and British Overseas Territories.

Early years and education

Mellor’s father worked as a toolmaker for the Sheffield Twist Drill Company in Ecclesall, Sheffield, where he was born. Mellor attended Sheffield College of Art’s Junior Art Department from eleven, gaining comprehensive instruction in craft skills. At this young age, he produced his first piece of metalwork, a sweet dish.

Silversmith

Mellor returned to Sheffield and founded a silversmithing workshop-studio. He produced one-of-a-kind pieces of specially commissioned silverware. To give Britain a more forward-looking image, the government commissioned a range of modern silver tableware for British embassies.

  • Milk Jug, `Embassy' 1963 (made), 1960 (designed)
  • tea-set; teapot; jug designed by David Mellor

Industrial design

Mellor was motivated by the relatively new design promise of stainless steel, in addition to silversmithing. His “Symbol” cutlery was the first high-quality stainless steel cutlery to be mass-produced in the UK, beginning in 1963 at Walker & Hall’s purpose-built new factory in Bolsover, Derbyshire. The government then tasked Mellor with redesigning standard-issue cutlery for canteens, hospitals, jails, and railways, reducing the usual 11-piece place collection to five pieces and lowering prices.

Mellor created the distinctive Abacus bus shelter
Mellor created the distinctive Abacus bus shelter

Mellor designed street lighting, bus shelters, public seating, and litter bins for the Midlands engineering company Abacus Municipal. Since their introduction in 1959, about 140,000 of his bus shelters have been built. The Department of the Environment commissioned him to redesign the national traffic light system as part of a traffic sign upgrade in 1965. The traffic lights that Mellor redesigned are still in operation.

Recognition

He won the 1950 National Design Competition of the Design and Research Centre for Gold, Silver and Jewellery for a silver coffee set.

1957 Design Council Award for his Pride flatware; 

1953 silver medal from the Royal College of Art; 1957. 1959, 1962, 1965, 1974, 1977 and other Design Council Awards; 

1975 Architectural Heritage Year Award for conversion of Broom Hall; 

1981 Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Society of Arts Presidential Award for Design Management. 

In 1962, elected Royal Designer for Industry in 1964. fellow of the Society of Industrial Artists and Designers; 

1979, honorary fellow of Sheffield Polytechnic; 

1981, liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths; in 1981, freeman of the Cutlers’ Company;  

1981, QBE (Order of the British Empire). He was made a trustee of the Victoria and Albert museum in 1984. 

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Wikipedia contributors. (2020, June 22). David Mellor (designer). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 00:38, March 30, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=David_Mellor_(designer)&oldid=963818

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