David Mellor, Royal Designer for Industry, was unusual in this country in combining the activities of hands-on
craftsman and designer with those of design entrepreneur. He operated as designer, manufacturer and retailer,
seeing the designer's function as controlling a product through all stages from concept to customer. He felt it
his mission to improve design standards over a broad spectrum, directly affecting very many people's lives.
Born in Sheffield in 1930, David Mellor trained originally as a silversmith. His Sheffield
background gave him a particular affinity with metalwork. This developed onwards from his early years of making
one-off pieces of specially commissioned silver, including table silver for British embassies, to the present
relatively large scale operation. David Mellor's well known ranges of stainless steel and silver cutlery are
now manufactured in his own purpose-built factory in Derbyshire.
David Mellor's concern with design in its broadest sense led to many important government
commissions in the 1960s. He redesigned the national traffic light system. Mellor's design is still in use.
He developed a controversial new square post box, and designed minimalist stainless steel cutlery produced in
huge quantities for government canteens and NHS hospitals. In 1969 David Mellor opened the first of his shops,
in Sloane Square in London. The David Mellor shops were soon internationally recognised and helped to establish
new attitudes to retailing, from the point of
view both of display and merchandise.
David Mellor's approach to design was always to some extent that of a craftsman, in his
close involvement in materials and techniques and his insistence on the highest standards of environment and
working conditions. All David Mellor buildings have been of special architectural merit.
His original studio-workshop in Sheffield was designed in the 1960s by Patric Guest of
Mayorcas & Guest and is now a listed building. In the 1970s David Mellor embarked on the restoration of a
historic building, Broom Hall, in central Sheffield. The successful integration of the cutlery workshops
received an Architectural Heritage Year Award.
The Round Building, David Mellor's cutlery factory in the Peak District National Park, was completed in 1990.
Mellor collaborated with the architect Sir Michael Hopkins in evolving a design which is highly functional in a
rural area of outstanding natural beauty. The Round Building has won numerous architectural awards.
The David Mellor Design Museum at Hathersage, opened in 2006 in another building purpose designed by Michael
Hopkins. The David Mellor Design Museum covers the whole broad spectrum of David Mellor's work from tea spoons to
traffic lights over the past half century.
David Mellor retired in 2005 and his designer son Corin Mellor is now Creative Director of the company.
Above, silver candelabrum
for the City of Sheffield, 1960.
Left, David Mellor in the Round Building cutlery factory
Above left, Studio-workshop
in Sheffield, 1960. Above right,
Traffic light system, 1966. Left,
Broom Hall in Sheffield.
Right, David Mellor Sloane
Square in 1969
Above, garden shears for
Burgon & Ball, Sheffield, 1970.
Below, Round Building roof
structure. Left, Design Museum
and Café at Hathersage