Velour Issue 5

Think Before You Quink

The world’s biggest selling pen ink since its founding in 1923 and the first of its kind to dry through absorption rather than evaporation, Quink is both an item of revolution and sentimentality.

Richly coloured in shades of blue, turquoise, red, pink, purple, green, and of course the classic black format, the liquid owes its existence to the Parker Pen Company. After a three-year research bout in the corporation’s headquarter laboratory in Janesville, Wisconsin, Quink was born. Created by chemist Francisco Quisumbing, general assumption points to its name as a hybrid of the words quick and ink, when in fact the true origin is its inventor’s patronymic.

In the digital age of emails, Tweets and Facebook statuses, the idea of a handwritten note seems a both outdated and foreign concept to most. With the fountain pen becoming a dying breed, a grab of the Bic ballpoint pen to scribble away random mind musings has replaced the more reflective writing process that a Parker 51 and Quink would suggest.

But before solely wallowing in dreamy evocations of afternoons spent cursively writing away, it is worth pointing out the mathematical side to this precious liquid. The result of over $268,000 worth of research encased in a semi-elliptical shaped container and dodecagon bottle cap, the modernly ink is sure to find admirers even in those less romantically and more modernistically-inclined.

We may all not revert back to juggling a fountain pen, piles of parchment paper and Quink on our commuter train, but surely perching a glass bottle of sapphire ink on our desks is little to demand of a generation engrossed by the manic rush of all day, everyday keyboard typing.

When it comes to defining the art of handwritten notes and overlooked beauty of product packaging, Quink’s the word.

Bet You’ve Sat In One Of These

A self-sacrificing object to our— in some cases perky and plump, in others doughy and deflated— derrieres, the chair is perhaps the world’s most disregarded piece of furniture. We marvel at marble flooring, covet coffee tables and dwell on drape designs, yet when it comes to this everyday entity, we prefer to simply chuck our cheeks into the seat and get on with it. But there is nothing to overlook
when it comes to the Hille Polyside chair.

Found in its typical, unassuming habitat of your local hospital, canteen, restaurant or school, the Polyside chair has a range of famous distinctions: the winner of the Council of Industrial Design award in 1965, the first use of polypropylene in furniture design, and one of eight designs to be featured in the 2009 British Design Classics stamps series.

In profile, its curvature of thermoplastic material is nestled atop sturdy steel legs which circulate around the base of the seat in an almost predestined congruity. A 534mm x 515mm x 750mm measuring construction, what the Hille chair lacks in pompous size or excessive decoration, it more than makes up for in legacy.

Launched in 1963, the best-selling chair in the world— sold over 50 million times, with 500,00 units being added to that figure per annum—was created by the acclaimed Robin Day. A furniture and interior design graduate from the Royal College of Art, Day is remembered as a pioneer in British post WWII design, garnering praise for his innovative moulded plywood storage system at the 1948 MoMA International Competition for Low Cost Furniture Design prior to creating his iconic masterpiece at Hille.

But before the Polyside could go on to attract the hearts (and bottoms) of millions, it was a case of right time, right place, right strategy. Founded in 1906 by Salamon Hille in the East End of London, the company gave Day carte blanche when he began designing at the firm in 1949. With an investment of £6000 in finalising the design’s moulding and construction, as well as three years of research, the Polyside chair was by no means an overnight success, however when the company sent  out 600 units of the piece to major firms prior to its launch, sales of the model were propelled into the millions almost instantly.

Combining a lightweight, high impact-resistant thermoplastic material with steel frames and durable leatherite paint has resulted in a design which has stood the test of time both literally and figuratively. Reflecting the demands of a post-war society looking for modern, uncomplicated, and ultimately economical designs, it has managed to remain a beloved piece of furniture design today.

Devoid of the pretentious prestige of an exorbitant price tag or exotic materials, the Hille chair proves that simple ideas are often the strongest.

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