The humble hairbrush isn’t just a tool for taming your locks – it’s a design classic in its own right, according to legendary Canadian designer, typographer, writer and illustrator Marian Bantjes
My favourite piece of classic design is the hairbrush. It’s been around for a long time – portraits, paintings and sculptures show that the ancient Romans, Greeks and Egyptians styled their hair, while archeologists have found lots of evidence of grooming tools dating back to these times – and it’s a huge improvement on its predecessor, the twig (or whatever pre-historic civilisations might have used to do their hair).
Today, there are different types and shapes of hairbrushes, all made of different materials: you can have rigid or soft bristles; a flat brush for detangling hair; a round brush for styling and curling; a paddle brush for taming and more. The handle might be made of ebony, rosewood, beech or plastic; the bristles could be anything from horsehair to nylon or stainless steel – the list goes on.
But the actual design has not – to the best of my knowledge – been fucked with extensively to the point that it becomes unusable. It has a handle and some bristles: a basic design for a basic function, and it’s something we use every day (except of course those people who use that other design classic, the comb).
For me, using a hairbrush is a great, daily pleasure. I have a Mason Pearson that not only brushes my hair but also lightly scratches my head in a most pleasant way, making a satisfying ‘scrunch, scrunch’ sound as it passes over my scalp.
In my view, the hairbrush is a truly timeless piece of design worthy of celebration and, dare I say, jubilation.