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Made in Britain: Cressida Granger from iconic brand Mathmos

PUBLISHED: 13:16 27 May 2015 | UPDATED: 13:22 27 May 2015

Mathmos electric blue lava lamp in clear blue from the heritage range.

Mathmos electric blue lava lamp in clear blue from the heritage range.

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A symbol of the swinging 60s or a slick example of British design? We spoke to Cressida Granger, owner and Managing Director of Mathmos, about the inspiration and creation of the lava lamp

The inventor of the lava lamp Edward Craven Walker and his wife and business partner Christine with the company van in the 1960s.The inventor of the lava lamp Edward Craven Walker and his wife and business partner Christine with the company van in the 1960s.

Recognised as a twentieth century design classic, the lava lamp has achieved continuous popularity since its creation in 1963. Designed by British inventor, Edward Craven Walker, the Astro lava lamp became a defining product of the 1960s, appearing in cult TV series’ ‘’The Prisoner” and “Dr. Who” and racking up a wealth of celebrity customers. Over 50 years on, and countless lava lamp sales later, the proudly British company is still based in Poole, Dorset. In a bid to discover more about the appeal of this iconic design in the 21st century, we caught up with Cressida Granger, owner and managing director of Mathmos.

Why do you think the lava lamp has become such an iconic product?

Mathmos lava lamps have appealed to people for so long because they say different things to different people. For some day are a symbol of the 1960s and of an era of freedom and new discoveries. For others they are calming focus to a room and for some they are a design classic.

Part of an advert for the astro lava lamp from the 1960s.Part of an advert for the astro lava lamp from the 1960s.

What inspires the creation of the products?

Golly, inspiration comes from everywhere. At Mathmos we particularly think about the past’s vision of the future. Lava lamps were inspired by 1960s thoughts about space and the future.

Mathmos matt black astro in clear pink from the heritage range.Mathmos matt black astro in clear pink from the heritage range.

Have you learnt any lessons throughout the design process?

When someone has an idea, we try and make it happen. However, not all good ideas turn into a commercial product and everything takes much longer than you wish it would.

A vintage lava lamp.A vintage lava lamp.

Mathmos lamps are made in Dorset, why is it important to support British manufactured products?

Mathmos has always manufactured its lava lamps in Britain. Whilst it is more expensive our quality is fantastic, we preserve British manufacturing skills and protect British jobs. I also think it is very special to have the same thing made in the same place for over 50 years.

Classic polished Mathmos astro in yellow green.Classic polished Mathmos astro in yellow green.

Do you have a favourite product?

I have really enjoyed being involved in the design and development process of many of the new LED products launched in the last decade or so and proud of the award winning products amongst them. But it is our classic lava lamps that really capture people’s imagination on an ongoing basis – the Astro is my favourite.

A vintage Princess lava lamp.A vintage Princess lava lamp.

Who have been your most famous customers?

There have been lots over the years I guess the most famous would be David Bowie, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney.

Can you share an interesting or unusual fact about Mathmos that people wouldn’t know?

Our name is from the bubbling force – a seething lake of lava beneath the city Sogo – in the cult 60s film Barbarella.

Do you have a brand philosophy?

We want to continue to make the best lava lamps in the world. We want to offer great quality, great service and innovative product.

Where do you see Mathmos in the future?

We have a new lava lamp coming out next year; this is exciting as we don’t launch new lava lamps very often. We have some other exciting new products in the pipeline and I hope we can continue to produce products that engage and delight our customers.

Want to own a Mathmos cult classic for yourself? Head over to the Great British Life shop.

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