New exhibition celebrating the work of Tom Karen, designer of the Raleigh Chopper, to open this month
c.2014 Credit line: © Alex Lake
A museum in Letchworth Garden City is preparing for a new exhibition celebrating the life and work of Tom Karen, one of Britain’s most prolific designers.
Tom Karen, whilst at Ogle Design in Letchworth, was responsible for some of the most popular designs of the Sixties and Seventies; from the barmy Bond Bug and ground-breaking Reliant Scimitar, to the iconic Raleigh Chopper, Leyland lorries, and even a Popemobile.
He also invented the original marble run, then marketed as Builda Helta Skelta, and under Tom’s direction, Ogle’s modelmakers also produced a number of vehicles used in the Star Wars movies.
Drawing on items from the Garden City Collection, the V&A Museum, donations from former Ogle Design employees and Tom’s own extensive collections, the exhibition aims to capture a sense of Tom’s charm and ingenuity in design.
The exhibition, taking place at The Museum at One Garden City, is the brainchild of Brent Smith, a long-time friend of Tom’s since designing the Prototyping Workshop at Ogle for him. It will feature items from the Garden City Collection, the V&A Museum, donations from former Ogle Design employees and Tom’s own extensive collections.
“I had been trying to persuade Tom for years to have an exhibition of his life, work and ideas for the future,” said Smith.
“He finally agreed last year on the proviso that I organised it for him! When I came across this great little space in Letchworth, the home of Ogle Design, I knew it would be perfect for it.”
Josh Tidy, Curator at The Museum at One Garden City, added: “In my two decades here in Letchworth, the amazing things made at Ogle Design have been one of my favourite aspects of this town’s unique history, but I feel, with these displays, we’ve also managed to capture the essence of Tom as a person, his sense of fun and invention, and his utter charm.”
The exhibition runs at The Museum at One Garden City, on Broadway in Letchworth Garden City from May 28th until September 10th.
To stay in the loop with the latest news, interviews and features from the world of toy and game design, sign up to our weekly newsletter here