Designer David Mellor once said that his profession is about more than making objects. It’s about making choices—choosing what to use, and choosing how to live.
Mellor’s design choice was clear: he endeavored to create elegant designs that would make people’s lives easier. In his hands, even the most mundane tools—a fork, garden shears, a saw—became objects of grace and utility.
Born in Sheffield, England, in 1930, Mellor trained as a silversmith and attended the Royal College of Art in London. He designed his first silverplate set, Pride, while in residence at the school. The collection won a Design Center Award and remains in production today.
His renown for metalwork led to a number of high-profile commissions from churches, embassies, universities, private patrons, and the government. In the 1960s, he outfitted government canteens and hospitals with stainless steel cutlery, redesigned the UK’s national traffic light system—still in use today—and created mailboxes and bus shelters.
In 1969, Mellor opened a retail shop in London’s Sloane Square. The shop, which remains successful, gained international recognition for its innovative approach to product display and merchandising.
Mellor’s high standards for design in all aspects of life are apparent in his architectural collaborations, including his Round Barn facility, a cutlery factory in Hathersage, in Derbyshire’s Peak District National Park. Completed in 1990 with architect Sir Michael Hopkins, the structure won numerous awards for its environmentally sensitive design.
Mellor passed away in 2009, but his dedication to improving people’s lives through design is carried on by his son Corin, a designer with David Mellor Designs. Before his death, David Mellor worked with his son on a number of designs, including a mobile cart—Transit—for Italian manufacturer Magis. Corin Mellor also designed the interior of the David Mellor Design Museum, where visitors can experience the diversity, elegance, and utility of David Mellor’s work.
David Mellor Designs
London, UK – Retail Shop
Hathersgate, UK – Factory
1957 – Design Council Award for Pride cutlery
1968 – Exhibition, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
1981 – Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire
1982 – Chairman of Crafts Council
1983 – Chairman of Design Council Committee; Trustee of Victoria & Albert Museum
1998 – Exhibition, Design Museum, London
2001 – Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire
2006 – Lifetime Achievement Award at Homes and Gardens/Victoria & Albert Classic Design Awards