Two stacking cream white lacquered plywood side tables. Isokon UK.
Designed in 1936 Breuer whilst in the UK began to explore plywood as a material. During that period Breuer designed several classic modernist pieces that were put into production by Jack Pritchard of Isokon.
A small sideboard originally made for Heals, London in the 1940s-50s by Vesper furniture company (Note: The small circular hole can be seen above one drawer where the Heals label would have been). Inside the drawers are made bent beech plywood.
We have two of these available as well as a small set of drawers. We believe that the sideboard was part of a set of bedroom furniture made by Vesper furniture for Heals in very limited numbers in the late 40s/ early 50s – very rare. It has design similarities to the 1950s designs by Dutch designer Cees Braakman for Pastoe furniture.
Isokon Long Chair (early 1960s production) – Upholstered plywood
The Hungarian-born, modernist architect and furniture designer was one of the masters of Modernism. Breuer extended the sculptural vocabulary he had developed in the carpentry shop at the Bauhaus into a personal architecture that made him one of the world’s most popular architects at the peak of 20th-Century design.
Breuer came to Britain in the mid-1930s following the closure of the Bauhaus by the Nazis. He became acquainted with Jack Pritchard the owner of Isokon, who suggested he design furniture for the company. Pritchard had become interested in the plywood designs of Alvar Aalto and wanted to produce similar furniture himself. The Long Chair was an adaptation of a previous design for an aluminium framed chaise Breuer had produced in 1932.
The Long Chair was designed by Breuer for the British Isokon company in 1935-36 and is considered one of the most important pieces of furniture to emerge from the inter-war modern movement.
In 1968, Pritchard licensed John Alan Designs, based in Camden, London to produce the Long Chair – John Alan manufactured the chair according to larger measurements in order to make the chair more 60s-friendly. This chair is thought to pre-date that period as it still retains the older smaller measurements. The upholstery is showing distinct signs of age and use.
Rare version of the “Kakkonen” stackable armchair No. 2. /15. Manufactured by Oy Huonekalu-ja Rakennustyötehdas Ab, Turku, Finland. 1930s.
Finmar label to the underside.
A good example of Aaltos formative years and early designs; this chair is made from laminated and solid birch and retains its original black finish.
Co-designed by Alvar Aalto and Otto Korhonen in 1930, the chair was manufactured over the years as four differing versions. This version is the rarest of the four. The design is similar to one of other versions in that the front legs protrude at the side. However, the front edge of the seat on this version is formed as a more severe right angle as shown in the detail fig.1 (The other version with protruding legs was rounded at the front). It also has a small decorative corner feature when seen from the front that is reminiscent of traditional Chinese chairs.
The chair was illustrated in Alvar Aalto Designer, Alvar Aalto museum p.69 and in Alvar & Aino design collection Bischofberger p.21
We are still researching this small table. It has similarities to various under-appreciated early British modernist designer/makers from the early c20th including Gerald Summers, Isokon/ Jack Pritchard etc. and captures the spirit of the early British constructivist architects and artists.
A handful of designer/makers like Summers and Isokon used plywood before the WWII. Unlike most other furniture makers of the day, they did not feel compelled to cover it in a veneer of a more exotic wood. In the early 30s Summers began to experiment with a special kind of plywood called “aeroplane ply” and, as Martha Deese wrote in the Journal of Design History, “this exceptionally thin and flexible material had a revolutionary impact on Summers’s emerging style” (Martha Deese, “Gerald Summers and Makers of Simple Furniture,” Journal of Design History, vol. 5, no. 3 (1992), pp. 183–205). During the period plywood enabled designers to evolve an organic idiom of curved surfaces and curvilinear outlines, which exploited the inherent capabilities of this pliable material. (*Cerio,2009)
The base of its sculptural design is made from 3mm aeroplane ply. The top that swivels around the base in three section can be folded away or left up as shown. The top is a thicker plywood.
Between 1925 and 1955 influenced by the Dutch Modernist De Stijl painters and designers Ko Verzuu designed many children’s toys. His designs were inextricably bound up with innovations in art, health care and pedagogy in the first half of the 20th century. In 1920, the sanatorium Berg en Bosch was founded in the sanctuary on the outskirts of Apeldoorn. This sanatorium offered rest and care to tuberculosis patients.
Once patients had recovered from their illness, returning to regular working life often proved to be difficult. In order to prepare patients better for their reintegration, the sanatorium developed a modern treatment: occupational therapy.
One of the ways this took shape was in the production of wooden toys. These toys were given the name ADO; an abbreviation that initially stood for Arbeid door Onvolwaardigen (Labour by the Deficient), but was wisely changed to Apart Doelmatig Onverwoestbaar (Special Functional Indestructible) in 1962.
These chairs are examples of the more seldom seen larger scaled furniture made by ADO.
In the vein of autonomous maker-designers like Gerrit Rietveld, Coen De Vries was one of the first Dutch interior architects to sell and produce their own designs. He began in 1947 with his shop “De Sleutel” (The Key) in Amsterdam. At ‘The Key’ he was able to retail designs by himself alongside those of other modernist designers whose designs focussed on lightwood furniture with simple construction. At the shop their sober and simple designs were often set off alongside brightly coloured fabrics.
This plywood and steel storage box encapsulates those of the Dutch post war ‘Goed Wonen’ (good living) foundation whose goal was to create good, practical, modern and aesthetically pleasing furniture at an affordable prices.
The box is composed of double-sided hinged lids that opens to reveal a sectioned interior (removable). It retains its original blue and off-white paint. Tetex produced the design in a range of colours: Red, white, yellow, blue and black. The legs were either in white or grey.