Get the Look: Dark Ercol Furniture

Often it is said that Ercol furniture is only wanted in the blond English elm finish rather than the darker stained version. Well, let us show you how it can look great- and  it was even good enough to feature in our book!

But first a little about Ercol: The Ercol brand was established in 1920 by Lucian Ercolani. He was Italian whose family arrived in England in the late 1890s. The company was based in High Wycombe where interestingly, other 20th century furniture greats such as G plan also came from.

In 1944, Ercol were asked to make a huge commission: 100,000 low-cost chairs of any design. Lucian had always loved the Windsor chair; admiring its simplicity and interestingly had also derived from High Wycombe centuries before. He was concerned about the size of the order for chairs with a bent wood frame so worked hard to master the craft of steam bending. He selected the unusual choice of English elm which wasn’t popular due to its problems when it was bent…usually warping under the heat.

The end result was shown at the 1946 “Britain Can Make It” exhibition at the V&A. This was an event to showcase the best of industrial and furniture design, set up by the Design Council.

After the war, they wanted to show the world that industry was important, that England was a design force to be reckoned with and Lucian couldn’t wait to show off his modern Windsor elm chair.

This was a success with the chair and other pieces going on sale the following year. Really, this was the first mass-produced furniture….it’s clean lines were modern, the elm was light yet practical especially compared with the pre-war clunky shapes and colours.

In 1951, they showcased new designs at the Festival of Britain. Further iconic pieces of furniture were introduced throughout the 1950s and 1960s such as the nest of pebble tables (1956), the butterfly chair (1958) and the lovely day bed.

Ercol is still going strong today, run by Lucian’s grandson. A few years back they re-issued their signature pieces which were bought up in record time.

I’m sure you will agree these look great and work well in a modern setting.

But what about the dark version? We had a Pandora’s Box coffee table last week which sold before we managed to get it online.

But now look at it in Carla and Martin’s flat in Manchester. Their day bed is covered in Sanderson 1950s style fabric which is also on the Ercol footstool.

Photo taken by Simon Whitmore for David and Charles: Style your modern vintage home, by moi!

 A single chair sits beside. The colours all tie together with the accessories, especially the German plant stand.

All work really well in this space and proves our point made at the start – Ercol looks fab in both shades due to its style and contemporary design.

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1 Comment on Get the Look: Dark Ercol Furniture

  1. Ian
    November 10, 2013 at 10:00 pm (6 years ago)

    Love the article on Ercol. I have only just discovered it but am building up a collection. I am getting a lot of pleasure out of renovation and restoration. Love the fabric ideas.

    Reply

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