Iconic British Design – OMK now represented at Good Form
A chance encounter with the OMK T1 Armchair leads to something much more exciting...
Words by Dan Eagle
The first encounter I had with OMK products was the T1 armchair, a thoroughly modern design executed in chrome and hide leather with a respectful nod to the Bauhaus. I purchased them from the original licensed distributor who imported the armchairs into New Zealand in the early 1970s. At the time (1970s) they were one of the most desirable and fashionable chairs in the UK and a best seller in Terence Conran’s Habitat stores.
In New Zealand the chairs didn’t fare quite as well. The conservative local audience was not ready for these icons of British high-tech design. The chairs never sold and were subsequently packed away for over 40 years. In a way, I was the first person in New Zealand to buy a new OMK product.
It’s now been over 50 years since the highly celebrated Rodney Kinsman designed the T1 for his company OMK. In the years since, Kinsman has created several other innovative design objects that have become icons of the modern era. Many sit in the permanent collection of some of the world’s most prestigious museums.
When I discovered that OMK was re-issuing some the classic design icons from its back catalogue I was very excited. It’s been over half a century, but I think New Zealand is finally ready to embrace the high-tech design aesthetic that has made Rodney Kinsman one of the UK’s most celebrated designers.
Founded in 1965 by Rodney Kinsman, OMK designed and manufactured much of the furniture sold through Terence Conran’s Habitat stores in the 60’s and 70’s. A key figure in the High-Tech design movement, Kinsman’s products are regarded as icons of 20th century British design.
Rodney Kinsman's aspiration has always been to design progressive furniture employing contemporary technology and using modern materials rather than simply following tradition. Today Kinsman is a celebrated designer and his enduring work for OMK can be found in the permanent collections of the V&A, London's Design Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.