The Swiss Army Knife, every schoolboy’s dream, was first manufactured in the late nineteenth century. The knife is more than a simple pen knife, with its distinctive bright red body bearing the trademark white cross: it is a compact household tool kit.
Carl and Victoria Elsener created their high-quality cutlery in their small Swiss Alps factory. Their reputation multiplied, and in 1891 they were awarded a contract by Switzerland’s tiny army to supply soldiers with a sturdy knife. The straightforward design was well received, and they were awarded a second contract the following year. This time, they created the elegant, multi-purpose “Officer’s Knife” — the first million-selling version of the Swiss Army knife.
The legendary knives have now been produced by four generations of the family, based on the three original principles of high quality, versatility, and design excellence. Despite being manufactured in a variety of styles, the basic knife remained the same. The basic model is merely a collection of foldaway blades. In contrast, models like the monster “SwissChamp” include a corkscrew, can and bottle openers, nail files, screwdrivers, wood saw, pliers, scissors, toothpicks, and chisel. The knife’s long-standing popularity among scouts, campers, travellers, explorers, and fans of compact gadgetry stems from its simple premise: a miniature toolbox that folds away and fits into the palm of your hand.
McDermott, C. (1997). Twentieth-century design. Carlton.
More Classic Designs
You may also be interested in
Born Charles Édouard Jeanneret, Swiss-born architect, designer and theorist, Le Corbusier was one of the most influential artistic figures in 20th-century architecture, publisher of the Esprit Nouveau Modernist newspaper in 1920, author of several influential books including Vers une architecture (1923), L’art décoratif d’aujourd’hui (1925) and Les 5 points d (CIAM).
Hans Gugelot (1920 – 1965) began his career in engineering (1940-2) and architecture (1940-6) in Switzerland and was closely associated with the radical Hochschüle für Gestaltung (HfG) in Ulm, Germany, and the clean, systematic, and practical styling of Braun products in the late 1950s and 1960s.