Design Moment: Ericofon, 1956

Phone designed by Ericsson was purchased 2.5 million times before it was discontinued in 1972

  The    Ericofon came in 18 colours, red and white being the most popular. Photograph: Alan Betson

The Ericofon came in 18 colours, red and white being the most popular. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

One of the major – and probably least examined – shifts in telecommunications and how we live in our own homes is the beginning of the slow death of the landline. The cordless phone took the telephone out of the hall and now just a few years later when everyone in the house has a phone, why bother with an expensive-to-rent landline?

But there was a time when home telephones were an experimental frontier of design, an era that coincided with the excitement around the potential for a new material: plastic. The Ericofon was created by in-house designers at Swedish firm Ericsson where it was first showcased in 1954 before going into production two years later.

‘Cobra’

It was the first domestic telephone where the dial (rotary and hidden in the base), the receiver and speaker were in one easy-to-hold unit that stood upright on a table. It was nicknamed the “cobra” for the obvious reason that it looked like a coiled snake, its head rearing up. The designers were prompted by the advances in plastic injection moulding which did away with ugly joints, and the Ericofon was available in 18 colours with red and white being the most popular.

It was discontinued in 1972, after 2.5 million Ericofons had been sold.