David Mellor was born in Sheffield and retained throughout his life a love and close attachment to the city of his birth.
He initially trained at the Sheffield College of Art and from there arrived to become a silversmithing student at the Royal College of Art in 1950. At this time the RCA under the leadership of Robin Darwin was encouraging the training of designers for industry and the Silversmithing School was similarly committed.
In 1954 he set up his first designer and maker workshop in Sheffield and in a period covering ten years undertook a host of exceptional commissions that included the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, the Cutlers’ Company; silver tableware for British Embassies and gaining a series of influential Design Centre Awards.
Throughout his life he firmly believed that effective design was a marriage between need, form, materials and production. This philosophical foundation underpinned all his work and led to the creation of specialist workshops in the 1970’s. Eventually in 1990 David Mellor built a purpose designed cutlery factory at Hathersage in the Derbyshire Peak District National Park to enable the batch production of his designs and provide employment for local people.
David Mellor was a through and through modernist and as Sir Terence Conran says in a forward to the book ‘David Mellor Design’ he strived for – ‘plain, simple and useful modernity – ……he always wanted to know how something was made before he designed it’ and ‘wanted to follow his products to the eventual purchasers’ own homes’.
The opening of The David Mellor Design Museum at Hathersage in 2006 gives a living testament to the scope of his life’s work and the meticulous contribution he made to the quality of British design in the second half of the 20th Century.