Artefacts designed by Ken Garland

Feature by

Ken Garland and Galt Toys

I first came across Ken’s work in the Unit Edition’s superb monograph, Structure and Substance, published in 2012. Although I had owned a few of the British industrial design magazines, Design, for a few years before, for which Ken had designed numerous covers.

Ken was born in 1929, in Southampton and grew up in a small market town in North Devon. He was a principled man, with strong values and views against the hyper-consumerism we live with today. Ken studied at the London Central School of Arts and Crafts in the 1950s and was taught by Herbert Spencer, Anthony Froshaug and Jesse Collins. Whilst at the School he studied alongside designers Ken Briggs, Alan Fletcher and Colin Forbes.

He launched his own small design agency Ken Garland Associates in the early 60s in Camden and has worked and lived there for over half a century. Their longest client retainer lasted 20 years, this was for James Galt and Company.

James Galt and Company itself was established in Manchester, 1836, but started trading toys on a retail level in 1961, simplifying its name to Galt Toys. They commissioned Ken to design a playful identity, packaging designs, catalogues, furniture and even the games themselves. The identity was set in Folio Medium Extended and Ken stated in the Unit Editions monograph, Ken Garland – Structure and Substance,

[We] were determined not to let the Galt Toys logo become a sacred cow, not to be mucked about with   (as was decreed with so many logos in the 50s and 60s). It would, indeed, be mucked around with, but only by us. 

There is, I have to say, more than mere whimsy in these variants. With the eager involvement of my Associates I was totally devoted to breaking down the tyranny within which logotypes were normally constrained. I felt that they were best used as the starting point for design ideas, rather than as an inviolable, enshrined entity.” 

Ken Garland Montage instructions scaled
The Montage game/set wasn’t designed by Ken, but the packaging and instructions, were designed by Ken Garland & Associates in 1966
Ken Garland octons scaled
Octons was designed in 1973, and contains a number of coloured transparent octagons that van be connected and built, to make your own modular forms.
Ken Garland Montage scaled
The Montage game/set wasn’t designed by Ken, but the packaging and instructions, were designed by Ken Garland & Associates in 1966
Ken Garland Fizzog scaled
This game, designed by Ken Garland and associates, in 1970, consists of around 24 half faces to pair and connect. 

Further info and references:

Unit Editions 09 – Ken Garland – Structure and Substance 

Interested in hearing more about the collection or using the archive? 

You can sign up to the design archive newsletter here

Related Items from the Archive

More articles

A new interpretation of the work of Bramante, suggesting an agenda for contemporary architectural practice.
I have long been a fan of Counter-Print, as a student, I would order their newsprint publications, peruse their Flickr albums and now, over a decade later I still buy their latest releases and their site provides our staff with great giftse throughout the year. I interviewed one of the founders, Jon Dowling to find out more about setting up Counter-Print, their favourite books and which publishers inspire them. 
Theo Crosby was born in South Africa in 1925 and moved to Britain in the late 1940s. He was a highly skilled designer, architect and sculptor. He became the technical editor of Architectural Design magazine in 1953 and remained in the post for almost a decade. The large format magazines feature an array of content including information on buildings, materials and architectural plans.
Giovanni began his work with Olivetti in March 1938, and his work was showcased in various exhibitions and had a clear distinctive style that amplified the Olivetti brand image. His design defined the company’s visual image, and the iconic geometric designs are still as powerful and engaging today as they were in the 1950s.