Quintessentially British? – The Mini

There was a time when I was younger, back in the UK, that just about everyone had owned a mini at some point. They were everywhere. A small car designed to fit in a 10ft x 4ft x 4ft space, carry 4 people at highway speeds and sip fuel.

Following his success with the iconic Morris Minor, Sir Alec Issigonis’ design was an instant hit in 1959 and remained in production, largely unchanged until 2000. Over 5.3 million units were made and it became a British icon alongside Big Ben and the Union Jack.

The Mini is one of the most iconic images of post-war Britain. It symbolizes the swinging 60’s: Carnaby Street, youth culture, rock & roll, sexual liberation, and freedom for the common people.

What could be more British than that?

Well, it must not be forgotten that it was designed by a Greek refugee, Alexander “Alec” Issigonis, later knighted for his engineering/design work. Alec fled to Britain with his family from Smryna in Greece (now called Izmir in Turkey) during the Greco-Turkish war of 1919-1922.

160216_Mini

My point of designing this simple art work was to bring to the fore the concept that we are all one people and you cannot predict who will do what for whom. In these days of vitriolic rhetoric aimed at the sea of refugees fleeing the Middle East, this is perhaps something we should reflect upon…

~Richard

 

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