Stephen Bayley Design consultant

Stephen Bayley

Design consultant

Smallness suggests maturity and sophistication. In most fields of human

activity, except office buildings, the impulse to miniaturise has gone

hand-in-hand with progress. Making things smaller produces a virtuous

circle where the functional benefits of one tiny component spread like a

benign virus throughout the whole system. Small is clever.

So any device that is exceptionally compact has a winning quality for

the mature mind. But this is only one reason why Olympus single-lens

reflex cameras have a special appeal. Never mind its technical ability

to capture reality on photosensitive film, cameras of all sorts appeal

to the child in man. Those beautifully conceived knobs, switches, dials,

slides and buttons are like a mechano-erotic secret garden, irresistible

temptations for exploration and feeling.

So the handsome little Olympus is dually and paradoxically attractive.

At once it denies that it is a toy because its intelligent size suggests

how grown up it is. Equally, its seductive arrangements inspire intense

longing. Olympus engineers and designers have orchestrated a hierarchy

of textures and colours, from the black crackle of the body, through the

powder-coated pewter titanium of the pentaprism to the solid soot of the

main controls. Beneath these is another hierarchy of graphics.

The single-lens reflex format may not be the ideal layout for cameras,

but as wet-chemical photography waits to be overtaken by full digital

imaging, I reckon pentaprisms are going to be with us forever. In a

sense, it’s a beautiful memory of what a camera should be.


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


Oasis #springasmile digital campaign gets people doing good deeds
Coca-Cola: 'Don't approach bloggers with a fait accompli'
Tesco CMO Matt Atkinson: 'It is so important not to stereotype mothers'
McDonald's gives Ronald a new look ahead of global 'Fun times' social media push
In pictures: BrewDog opens first craft beer shop BottleDog for 'beer aficionados'
Facebook ad revenue leaps $1bn as it invests in targeting
Malteser or Maltesers? Mars takes Hershey trademark dispute to court
Apple Q2 profits top $10bn as iPhone sales soar
Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers