Retro Delights: The Ercol chair

It probably started with a little shop in Shoreditch. I always used to pop in there to have a look; they sold mostly Danish design, but one day they had a little coffee table by British company Ercol, from the Fifties, and a chair – what's now called a stacking chair – and I suddenly saw that style afresh. I grew up with it, but I remember realising how simple, elegant, quite modern and very well made it was. From then, I gradually started collecting good British design from that time. There was a house clearance shop that I used to drive past when I had a studio in Battersea, and I'd always immediately recognise a piece of furniture from that era. And because I'm associated with British design, this appreciation seems somehow appropriate.

I tend not to go shopping a lot because I don't actually enjoy the shopping experience. But I enjoy the finding element, which is why I often find pieces from the past – it's lovely to come across those and value them. I sometimes rather admire people who just buy the contemporary, but the Fifties is a period that I like now – and I think you can mix it with other styles because the pieces are quite edited design-wise. They're very pure. And we're always going to love furniture made from wood because it's basic, and the grain is warm. Just like how the 1920s Bauhaus use of chrome and leather is still as modern today as it was then. Again, it was edited, using nothing more than necessary. They were using materials that informed the function of the design and that nothing else could perform better.

Of course, the era wasn't all about the fresh look – the Fifties had that mock-Tudor, dark-brown sort of stuff too, and it seemed a very radical step for a designer to design lovely light pieces. My mother's younger brother was an architect and I remember when he bought an Ercol armchair – it was a very modern look amid the other furniture. But good things last. It's very complementary to how I work; the values are similar – that things should be well-made, with good-quality materials, and have functionality and comfort. I think I'm attracted to pieces from that time because they have that visual lightness of design. That fits with white spaces and big windows – and of course light, space and clarity are all uplifting and modern.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
News
science
Life and Style
Emoji are rapidly becoming the language of the internet
techWhy internet acronyms are being driven out by emoji
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before