Egon Riss for British company Isokon in 1939. Riss was a Viennese architect who fled Europe for Britain after the rise of the Nazis.
Made from birch-veneer plywood, the Donkey gets its name from its four legs and two ‘panniers’.
What makes it special
A beautifully practical example of early British modernism, the Donkey was devised by Riss to hold books in the panniers, and newspapers in its centre. Allen Lane, founder of the newly created Penguin Book company, was so impressed he offered to include a leafl et for the renamed Penguin Donkey in the first 100,000 books printed, but only 100 units were sold before the outbreak of World War II stopped its production. It was redesigned with great success in 1963 by British modernist designer Ernest Race, and revisited in 2003 by Shin & Tomoko Azumi for Isokon Plus.