Life

Why Scissors Are Usually Orange

The ubiquitous household tool has quite a history.

Take a look around your home. You probably have a pair of orange scissors somewhere in a drawer. But have you ever stopped to wonder why scissor handles are so often orange?

Well, it turns out there’s quite a story behind the ubiquitous orange scissors. They are made by Finnish company Fiskars, and this year marks the 50th anniversary of the common household tool. According to Fiskars, customers have purchased 1 billion pairs of their orange scissors. And the history of the orange scissors tells a story of ingenuity.

The Origin Of The Orange Handles

Back in 1967, Finnish industrial designer Olof Bäckström worked with plastics to design furniture and home products. One day, he decided to work on adapting scissors. Until that time, shears were made entirely of metal, which was expensive to make and sell to the public. Metal scissors also felt heavy in the hands and weren’t particularly easy to use.

So, Bäckström wondered if he could design a pair of scissors that was durable, affordable and also easy for people to use. His new design called for the first plastic-handled scissors.

 

But where did the orange color come from? This was one of those wonderful meant-to-be moments: When Bäckström made the prototype for the new scissors, the plastic remaining in the machine came from a juicer the company had previously designed. Instead of starting a new batch of plastic, he decided to run with the orange plastic.

After seeing the striking scissors, the company voted to keep the orange handle over the more traditional black. Orange became such an identifying feature for Fiskars that the company got a registered trademark for the color in 2003.

Celebrating Fiskars’ 5oth Anniversary

The iconic orange scissors has become so ubiquitous in our culture that the Museum of Modern Art in New York added it to their permanent collection. In honor of Fiskars scissors’ 50th anniversary, an entire collection of art inspired by the Fiskars’ orange color sits on display in the Helsinki Design Museum. The installation, called “Our Scissors,” showcases the work of many artists inspired by the scissors and its iconic color.

Here are a few highlights from the exhibit:

Want to see more Fiskars’ orange artwork? Check out this video of the various pieces on display in Helsinki for the milestone anniversary.