What makes Royal Mail post boxes so attractive?

Have you ever noticed how attractive Royal Mail post boxes are?


Compare this to BT’s green boxes:


One of these objects is trying to be unobtrusive and designed (by colour) to blend into the surroundings. The other is bold, bright, hard to miss, and right in the middle of the path. Attempts to blend things in aren’t always the best design strategy as we can see in this case. The Royal Mail box in bright red is beautiful while the green BT box is ugly.

What is it about the Royal Mail box that makes it so attractive? Is it because we have become so conditioned to them? They are over 100 years old now and have heritage status. Even so, I can’t imagine the BT box will receive the same honour in another 100 years from now. No, it’s more than this. The Royal Mail box looks beautiful because it has design features. Thought has gone into the shape and there are ridges and patterns that serve no functional purposes other than to give it a finished and elegant appearance.  The BT box, however, is just a bunch of flat panels screwed together. There’s nothing about the design that is beautiful. Even the colour is unappealing; a sort-of murky pond-water green. It also looks flimsy and will probably need replacing long before the post box ever does.

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