Cutlery King

David Mellot's "designs for the public good" are a class above

December 21, 2016


Have you ever stopped to think about the design and craftsmanship that goes into the most familiar of domestic utensils—the knives, forks and spoons that are part of daily life? David Mellor (1930-2009), one of the best known 20th century British designers built his reputation on beautiful and functional cutlery which are now modern design classics.

Mellor originally trained as a silversmith at the UK’s Royal College of Art. After early success in 1953 while still a student with the prize-winning Pride range of cutlery, Mellor came to prominence in the 1960s when he received wide-ranging commissions. His 1965 Thrift cutlery in Type 316 (UNS S31600) stainless steel was commissioned by the British Ministry of Public Building and Works as the standard cutlery for government canteens, under the slogan ‘design for the public good’.


Many of Mellor’s designs from the 1950s and 60s, including Pride, are still in production. His Round Building factory in rural Derbyshire near Sheffield, UK, brings together design and manufacturing.

Today stainless steel is used extensively in the David Mellor collection. Andrew Cisalowicz, Mellor’s apprentice in 1978, and today factory manager says, “We have made technological breakthroughs in working with stainless steel. For example, for the City range we developed a sophisticated computerised mechanism to provide variable heat levels when welding stainless steel to achieve the required variations of form. And it’s the nickel (11% in Type 316) that gives stainless steel the weldability, ductility and malleability we need to produce our cutlery designs with precision.”

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