This post has been gathering dust for a little while but then, so has its subject. When we visited Exmoor in May, we made a beeline for The Bakelite Museum as soon as we saw the sign. I’m not usually one for kitsch plastics but in profusion they are irresistible – and the Museum is full to its rickety brim.
Bakelite was one of the first plastics, developed in 1907. It has fallen out of use now of course, but under the dust the bright pastels and aspirational marbling are insistently optimistic. I think you can tell that the designers were excited by the material! And so even the hoovers are lovely in their way.
These pictures are mixing together things from different eras and fashions (I’ll confess – a combination of page design and poor photograph labelling). But it’s amazing to see the sprawl of different ways it has been used. That’s the point of plastic, I suppose; after all the word comes from the Greek for to mould. It turns out Bakelite can be sleek and Art Deco, or kitsch and garish – solemn and practical or exuberantly ornamental – even beautiful.
p.s. I was very close to smuggling out the geometric copper-coloured kettle.