David Mellor once said that his profession is about more than making objects. Instead, it’s about making choices—choosing what to use, and how to live. Mellor’s choice was clear: He endeavored to create elegant designs that would make people’s lives easier. In his hands, even the most mundane tool—a fork, a saw, garden shears—became an object 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 still in school. The collection, which won a Design Center Award, 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. The shop was recognized 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 Round Barn facility, a cutlery factory in Derbyshire’s Peak District National Park. Completed in 1990 with architect Sir Michael Hopkins, the structure won numerous awards for its environmental sensitivity.
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, Mellor worked with his son on a number of projects, including the Transit Folding Trolley for Magis. Corin Mellor also designed the interior of the David Mellor Design Museum, where visitors can experience the diversity, elegance, and utility of Mellor’s work.