In our current world of brutally hard-edged, utilitarian machine design this Paragon Cutter captures one’s aesthetic sense and reminds us of a time when machines were extravagant in appearance.  The iron construction allowed for a cast Art Nouveau styled framework reflecting late 19th century designs. Its sculptural feel encourages the eye to willingly move from the functional cutting platform to its sweeping curved legs and details. The designer, E. L. Miller proudly includes his patent date and place of manufacture in raised letters on the side of the cutter. Its place in a printing shop is akin to furniture in a home.

The Paragon Cutter’s stylized appearance represents a time in our history when designers had such a passion for their machines, they were willing to go beyond pure function by including artistic embellishments. These machines replaced the hand-built one off machines of the early 19th century. They in turn would be replaced by our more the more modern practical devices of the early 20th century.

Janice Propst, Industrial Designer and Art Education teacher in the West Ottawa school district.