Thursday, May 21, 2015

Torre wall rack valet | Andries and Hiroko van Onck | Inipress for Magis | Italy

Andries and Hiroko van Onck

Andries van Onck was born in Amsterdam in 1928. Amongst his early teachers were Gerrit Thomas Rietveld from the Dutch De Stijl group; later he studied in Ulm at the Hochschule für Gestaltung with Tomas Maldonado, Walter Zeischegg, and Max Bill. In 1959 he started as a designer at Olivetti in Italy as an assistant to Ettore Sottsass.  In 1965 he opened his own studio in Milan, where his wife, Hiroko Takeda. later joined him. The pair has created products in many different sectors, including household appliances, furniture, machine tools and electronic equipment.  Andries van Onck has an extensive website and says of his trade:

“From the very start I am also interested in the theoretical aspects of design, such as design language, morphology and semiotics, and I spend much time as a teacher, to write articles and even two books.”

Hiroko Takeda was born in 1945. She graduated from the Tokyo Academy. Between 1968 and 1972, she cooperated with various Japanese furniture design companies. Since 1972, she has been living in Italy with Andries Van Onck. She has designed household appliances for Zanussi and Bertazzoni, intercoms and videophones for Amplyvox, cutlery for Serafino Zani, and furniture and accessories for Magis.

In collaboration, they won an award at the XI Compasso d’Oro (1979) for their Habitat switches.  Both also remain extremely active teachers of design.

Here is the Torre wall rack valet by Andries and Hiroko van Onck for Inipress for Magis in red.  The rack is versatile and adjustable, featuring four hooks that flip down and eight, immobile hooks at the top of the rack located between the flip down hooks.  The Torre wall rack measures 23-1/2” length by 3-1/8” height by 1-3/4” depth.  Image source:  eBay.

Torre wall rack by Inipress for Magis by Andries and Hiroko Van Onck frontTorre wall rack by Inipress for Magis by Andries and Hiroko Van Onck back

Front and back of the Torre wall rack.

Torre wall rack by Inipress for Magis by Andries and Hiroko Van Onck detailTorre wall rack by Inipress for Magis by Andries and Hiroko Van Onck side detail

Detail of the Torre wall rack.

Torre wall rack by Inipress for Magis by Andries and Hiroko Van Onck imprint

Torre wall rack, imprint.


Andries & Hiroko van Onck.  Retrieved May21, 2015 from http://www.orangeskin.com/about/designer/andries-hiroko-van-onck

Design theory and practice.  Retrieved May 21, 2015 from http://www.andriesvanonck.com

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

X-Rated watch (model GB406) | Swatch AG | Biel, Switzerland | 1987

The name “Swatch” is a portmanteau of “second” and “watch” that was coined by Nichole Lopez.  The Swatch watch was introduced with the idea of watches being casual, fun, and relatively disposable accessories. Swatch began development in the early 1980s under the leadership of the then CEO of ETA SA Manufacture Horlogère Suisse (ETA SA Swiss Watch Manufacturer), Ernst Thomke with a small team of watch engineers led by Elmar Mock and Jacques Müller.


Swatch was originally intended to re-capture entry level market share lost by Swiss manufacturers during the “quartz crisis” and the subsequent growth of companies such as Seiko and Citizen in the 1960s and 1970s. During this time, accurate, quartz crystal based digital timepieces became commonplace and had the advantage of being inexpensive. The launch of the Swatch brand in 1983 was marked by a combination of bold new styling, hip fashionable design, and slick marketing. Swatch was and remains an affordable, Swiss made, plastic watch that turned the watch world upside down.

I really could pick any early Swatch model for this post, but there’s one that holds a special place in my heart: the X-Rated.  That’s the one with the big bold “X” on it.  It was given model GB406 by Swatch AG. The association between the watch and the straightedge hardcore/punk bands and kids was almost immediate and continues to this day, almost 30 years later.

X-Rated Swatch close up of face

The front of the watch reads © SWATCH AG 1987 in an arc across the top and swatch/SWISS across the bottom.  There are white hour and minute hands and a red second hand.  A date indicator is in the three o’clock position.  Image source:  delcamp.net

X-Rated Swatch with case and instructions

The X-Rated swatch with case and instructions.  Image source:  delcamp.net

Chain of Strength X-Rated Swatch

Chain of Strength (New York, 1988).  Image source: Double Cross XX.

I always liked the design of the X-Rated and they always took great pictures – take a look at Chain of Strength above. Even though I wasn’t the type to X up, one of these gems was always on my wish list. First wave hardcore was before my time and the X-Rated watch was already expensive when I got around to wanting one. Really, who am I kidding? I would still love having one of these today, even though I enjoy an occasional intoxicating beverage (Note: I swear to be be true til death I take off the watch).

Excellent condition X-Rated Swatches are difficult to come by and today can sell upwards of $500 with original band, case, and instruction sheet. Beware though, as deceptive fakes exist. For example, a less valuable watch can have its face removed and be swapped with a counterfeit X face.  There are also abundant low cost knockoffs if having the real thing isn’t all that important.

X-Rated Swatch  close up of back

An example of the back of an X-Rated Swatch.  Image source: eBay.  While I have seen other code numbers than 7454-P, This one reads:


And to the left of the battery:

1,55 V

Corey Feldman X Rated Swatch in Dream a Little Dream

Corey Feldman wears an X-Rated Swatch in the opening minutes of the 1989 film Dream a Little Dream. Yes, Corey Feldman.


Swatch. Retrieved May 14, 2015 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swatch

Swatch History: The amazing adventures of the ‘SECOND WATCH’. Retrieved May 14, 2015 from http://www.swatch.com/zz_en/about/history.html

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Saturday, May 2, 2015

rocket cocktail shaker | Sterilite Corporation, United Plastics Corporation

Here is a vintage, space age (obviously!) cocktail shaker marked Steri-lite and United Plastics Corporation.  The rocket has a yellow top, a red body, and yellow base.  The rocket base features four fins and is free standing.  The shaker measures 9” in height and has a hinged cap at its capsule top that is used to pour out your drinks.

eBay item 191487719506 sold January 26, 2015 at 3:07PM (United States).  Six bidders placed 15 bids on the cocktail shaker.  The shaker sold for $67.66 plus $6.00 shipping.

United Plastics Corp Steri-lite rocket sahaped cocktail shaker frontUnited Plastics Corp Steri-lite rocket shaped cocktail shaker top

The rocket is marked on the bottom: Steri-lite (in script), around the base: FITCHBURG MASS / USA   UNITED / PLASTIC CORP and vertically PAT PEND and 2.  The numeral 2 is presumably a mold number.

United Plastics Corp Steri-lite rocket shaped cocktail shaker bottom

The Steri-lite mark refers to the Sterilite Corporation, which was founded in 1939 as a partnership between Saul and Edward Stone and Earl Tupper (yes, the Tupper of Tupperware fame) and at the time was located in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.  United Plastics Corporation has been a leader in the manufacturing of quality plastic products since 1946.


The Sterilite Story: Who We Are. Retrieved February 25, 2015 from http://www.sterilite.com/about_sterilite.html

United Plastics Corporation. Retrieved February 25, 2015 from http://www.unitedplastics.com/

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