Designer behind iconic 1970s Raleigh Chopper bicycle, three-wheeled Bond Bug vehicle and children’s game Marble Run dies at 96

  • Tom Karen was the managing director of Ogle Design of Letchworth from 1962 to ’99
  • Mr Karen was born in Vienna in 1926 but settled in England during the war
  • He designed many famous British products including the Raleigh Chopper bike

Tom Karen, the mastermind behind some of Britain’s most recognizable designs, has died aged 96.

Mr Karen died peacefully on New Year’s Eve surrounded by his family.

He was the managing director of Ogle Designs of Letchworth from 1962 to 1999.

During his tenure, he designed many well-known British products, including the Raleigh Chopper bicycle, the three-wheeled Bond Bug vehicle and the children’s play Marble Run.

A retrospective of Tom Karen’s career is currently being held at One Garden City in Letchworth.

Tom Karen, the man behind some of Britain’s most recognizable designs, has died aged 96. Mr Karen died peacefully on New Year’s Eve surrounded by his family

City historian Josh Tidy, who curated the exhibition, said Mr Karen was ‘thrilled’ by it. ‘Tom was a true great,’ he said.

‘I’ve had the privilege of meeting him several times over the past year or so, during which an exhibition celebrating his life and work runs until March 10, (we will have a condolence book in place, which we will Will increase) their family).

‘I am very pleased in retrospect that we were able to do the exhibition last year – as it turned out, and as we had feared. I know Tom was thrilled with this which makes me happy during this sad time.’

Speaking to the Guardian, his daughter Eugenie said it was a ‘luck’ to be close to ‘such a creative man’.

In 2019 he was appointed an OBE in the New Year Honours.  Reflecting on Marble Run on his website, Mr. Karen called it 'my most inspired creation'.  He said the idea came to him when he saw his children playing with simple wooden marble runs.

In 2019 he was appointed an OBE in the New Year Honours. Reflecting on Marble Run on his website, Mr. Karen called it ‘my most inspired creation’. He said the idea came to him when he saw his children playing with simple wooden marble runs.

He said, “Her life was extraordinary and she found such happiness in her last few decades at Cambridge.”

Mr. Karen was born in Vienna in 1926, but settled in England in 1942 during the war.

In 2019 he was appointed an OBE in the New Year Honours.

Reflecting on Marble Run on his website, Mr. Karen called it ‘my most inspired creation’.

He said the idea came to him when he saw his children playing with a simple wooden marble run.

“It occurred to me that if such a game could be made of several components and assembled in alternate ways to form a run, it would offer an inviting test and end with an immensely satisfying reward. ,” They said.

He added: ‘I love knowing that millions of children around the world have found endless joy playing with my Marble Run.’

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