Love this bit of marketing. In 1973 Nairn Floors Ltd wanted architects to be more aware of their products, so Eduardo Paolozzi was commissioned to design this elephant (yes, there must have been quite a few steps to get from there to there….). When I first saw the image I thought it was made of cut up sheets of lino, glued on top of one another, but slightly oddly (to my mind) it’s made from plastic. The sculptor worked with a plastics engineer, Keith Powell, to develop a way of casting from a the wood-wax mould. Not only did it have to stand up straight and convey strength, intelligence and rugged beauty, the elephant also had to conceal a 10in x 8in box, for product literature , which was specially designed too, involving leading illustrators and architectural photographer Phil Sayer (who shoots “me and My House” for C20 Magazine).
There were originally 3000 of these elephants, all numbered . I wonder how many have survived? Back in 1973 Design Journal commented “It’s hoped that architects will treasure them, hoard them – anything except throw them away unopened along with the other trade samples.” Any who have might now be tempted to part company, as Bonhams has one up for sale with an estimate of £800 – 1,200. see the article here
To bid on Number 1066 (surely a number worth a premium!) see here
But what I’d really like know is did the elephant work–anyone who can remember specifying Nairn Flooring under the watchful eye of one of these, please get in touch.