Design Files

The following are extended versions of the Design Files podcasts, as published on the ABC Radio National website:


  1. I have a suggestion for you for a design file. The Stanley 99E retractable utility knife.

  2. I’m sorry for the lateness of my reply but for some reason i didn’t get the email notification of reply and i just checked back on this page for another reason.

    The term “Stanley Knife” has, like Esky, Tannoy or Jacuzzi and many others become part of the lexicon and transcended being just a name for one companies product to being a descriptor of the product category itself.

    Stanley introduced the 199 fixed blade utility knife in 1936 (a design still in production) but for me the later retractable blade version is the true classic, if just by the fact that one can see the design being produced by countless other brands that are virtually identical and the retractable utility knife even if it isn’t a knife produced by Stanley itself, can probably be found in virtually every kitchen drawer, shed and workplace in the developed world.

    I say “this is my favourite tool” about a lot of tools but the 99E is a knife that I use every day if not for work (my training is in production design and carpentry), for opening a packet, a box or for countless other cutting duties in my day to day personal life.

    There are also more modern designs made by Stanley and others but all retain the same basic principles of the 99E and for me this knife still remains the best and most reliable, even if I do have to use a screwdriver, butter knife or coin to open the body and change the blade.

    Thank you Colin, I look forward to hearing the next Design File on either Wednesday or the Saturday repeat.



    • Hi Dennon

      Thanks for all that info on the Stanley knife. It’s still on my list of ‘to do’s’. I looked at it when you first mentioned it and thought it was good for the broadcast segment but I couldn’t find enough material for the longer written version which would be published on the ABC RN website (I’m sure you’re aware of them – links are on the Other Writing folder on this site if you’re not). But your point about descriptors is a good one and maybe I can go with that. You’re right about every home having a Stanley knife even if it’s not a true Stanley knife, as it were. (And I laughed at your use of a butter knife – I mean, surely that’s an obsolete object now?). Thanks for listening!

  3. Thanks Colin

    Yes, I often get the RN written version sent to me on Facebook.



  4. The topic of typography does not seem to have been treated in the Design Files but design is at the heart of the topic. But I admit it is hard to talk about on the radio. Once dealt with visually (scroll down) a fascinating world awaits.

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