New exhibition celebrates designer Tom Karen

Tom Karen, whilst at Ogle Design Ltd in Letchworth, was responsible for some of the most well-loved and popular designs of the 60s and 70s; from the barmy Bond Bug, and ground-breaking Reliant Scimitar, to the iconic Raleigh Chopper, Leyland lorries, and even a Popemobile!

Under Tom’s direction, Ogle’s talented modelmakers also produced a number of vehicles used in the Star Wars movies. Add to that a stunning sideline in brilliant art and toys made from recycled materials and you have a life and career full of charming and wonderful things.

A special exhibition at Letchworth’s unique ‘micro museum’ celebrates everything Tom Karen has done over the course of a long and varied life, focusing on the designs that have defined him and recreating the quirky charm of his Cambridge home, filled with his wondrous creations, with lots of interest for all ages.

The exhibition is the brainchild of Brent Smith, a long-time friend of Tom’s since designing the Prototyping Workshop at Ogle for him.  He said, “I had been trying to persuade Tom for years to have an exhibition of his life, work and ideas for the future.  He finally agreed last year on the proviso that I organized it for him!  When I came across this great little space in Letchworth, the home of Ogle Design, I knew it would be perfect for it.”

The Museum at One Garden City’s Curator and Heritage Manager, Josh Tidy, who added, “In my two decades here in Letchworth, the amazing things made at Ogle Design have been one of my favourite aspects of this town’s unique history, but I feel, with these displays, we’ve also managed to capture the essence of Tom as a person, his sense of fun and invention, and his utter charm.”

Watch this space for details and links for a Crowdfunder with exclusive experiences and rewards, and for our packed events programme, including a ScalextricBond Bug Rally and an illustrated talk on Tom Karen by Brent Smith, at the Broadway Cinema on 6 June.

The exhibition runs at The Museum at One Garden City, on Broadway in Letchworth Garden City from 28 May until 10 September.  It’s open Monday to Saturday from 10am – 5pm and is accompanied by a series of associated events, with both illustrated talks, and family fun.