Ekco round radio model AD65

Contributed by Southend Museums

Ecko round radio, model AD65. Copyright Southend Museums Service

This was the first round radio ever made and was designed by Wells Coates, an architect and designer.One of Britain's largest radio manufacturers, E.K. Cole & Co. Ltd. (or 'Ekco') of Southend-on-Sea adopted Bakelite, a new plastic created by Dr Leo Baekland in America as a synthetic material that lent itself to cheap mass production moulding. In the early 1930s the great presses - essential to the production of Bakelite mouldings - were installed at the Southend works and mass-production began. To promote the status of Bakelite, the firm's founder E.K. Cole (1904-57) invited Modernist designers to challenge the usual 'wooden box' approach to domestic radio design. The two most famous designers to be employed by Ekco in the 1930s were Serge Chermayeff and Wells Coates (1895-1958).
The iconic AD-65 radio was available in black, walnut, ivory and even green. It represented radical design and engineering in an everyday household object and spelled international success for this Essex-based company.

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