28 MAY 2018

Introducing OMK 1965

A chance encounter with the OMK T1 Armchair leads to something much more exciting...

Words by Dan Eagle

The first encounter I had with OMK products was the T1 armchair, a thoroughly modern design executed in chrome and hide leather with a respectful nod to the Bauhaus. I purchased them from the original licensed distributor who imported the armchairs into New Zealand in the early 1970s. At the time (1970s) they were one of the most desirable and fashionable chairs in the UK and a best seller in Terence Conran’s Habitat stores.

In New Zealand the chairs didn’t fare quite as well. The conservative local audience was not ready for these icons of British high-tech design. The chairs never sold and were subsequently packed away for over 40 years. In a way, I was the first person in New Zealand to buy a new OMK product.

It’s now been over 50 years since the highly celebrated Rodney Kinsman designed the T1 for his company OMK. In the years since, Kinsman has created several other innovative design objects that have become icons of the modern era. Many sit in the permanent collection of some of the world’s most prestigious museums.

When I discovered that OMK was re-issuing some the classic design icons from its back catalogue I was very excited. It’s been over half a century, but I think New Zealand is finally ready to embrace the high-tech design aesthetic that has made Rodney Kinsman one of the UK’s most celebrated designers.

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