Monday, 1 March 2010
I think that the first time I heard of the kiwi, or indeed saw its picture, was on the eponymous boot polish tin. Although not English in origin, the very look of this particular tin (my guess is 1952-ish) is so redolent of newspaper laid out on the kitchen table and a row of shoes lined-up waiting for my father's robust military applications of polish. And the subsequent buffing-up with a yellow duster accompanied by either a Player's on the go or his tongue sticking out for some reason (like he did when he drove his car). William Ramsay first made the polish in 1906, in Australia oddly enough, but his wife was a New Zealander and so he named his product after the endemic flightless bird of her native country. Now it accounts for two thirds of all shoe polish sales in the world, and is accredited for popularising the kiwi as the country's national symbol. I thank fellow designers Philip Amis and Peter Denmark for giving me this empty tin in 1975. "We think you ought to have this", they said solemnly.