I was lucky enough to be invited to the Ercol factory and headquarters a couple of weeks ago; with other bloggers, journos and interior designers, I excitedly boarded the train to Buckinghamshire’s leafy Princes Risborough for my outing!
Ideal Home has a very warm place in it’s heart for Ercol, also founded in 1920 we British brands are still going strong, with a solid heritage at it’s core but adapting as we go.
We were greeted by Edward Tadros, the chairman and Grandson of the man who started it all, Lucian Ercolini. His spirit and passion for Ercol came shining through when he talked us through the history of the company and where it stands today.
Brand new release for September, the Marino chair, from £1,175, is made from solid ash and designed by in-house Dylan Freeth. The elegant chair is a contemporary statement but with the history of Ercol’s design running through its grains, in its flowing lines and turned legs.
A POTTED HISTORY…
Lucian Ercolini moved from his native Italy to London, making his way to Shoreditch to study furniture design. He started working for Parker Knoll (then known as Parker Furniture), and later on, after meeting Ted Gomme, moved on to working with the Gomme family that later founded G Plan.
he decided he could flourish and develop his then, modern style of furniture design in his own company. With some financial backing he founded Furniture Industries in 1920.
the company really came into its own in 1943; there was a serious shortage of both wood and furniture so the Utility Furniture catalogue was produced and it was essential that the well-made quality furniture was also designed with the utmost efficiency with the scarce supply of wood. And so Ercol’s streamlined, timeless, utility pieces were born. The every day staple designs were commissioned for mass production and Ercol continued going from strength to strength, designing and producing their signature functional but beautiful designs into the 50’s and 60’s, that we now know as the Ercol Originals.
From the Ercol Archive, the Furniture Industries Limited View of Works (click for more)
High-vis jacket and fetching protective glasses donned, we started the tour. It was fascinating privilege to see the individual pieces being made. From selecting the perfect colour and grain of wood, steam-bending, sanding, painting and assembly by both hand and machine and NOTHING gets past each stage without close inspection.
Check out these skills in the video below as the Evergreen Easy Chair piece is being sanded to perfection:
(Click on the link to see more)
There were extremely visually satisfying piles of furniture everywhere we looked …here’s one for the neat freaks!
It was amazing to see the process, from raw wood to the final pieces of beautiful, hand-finished furniture. We witnessed some experimental, new ideas in progress as well as current designs.
I was completely mesmerised by this paint-gun slinger creating this ombre effect, he made it look so easy!
(Click on the link to see more)
Originals Loveseat, from £735
Of course there are many and varied collections and pieces in the showroom but it’s hard not to be drawn to the Ercol Originals; their familiar shapes never tire or fail to look cutting edge. By updating the Originals in a painted finish, it keeps Ercol at the forefront of design, but still treasures their design heritage. See the latest colourways Oceanic and Chartruese below, alongside an amazingly-touchy-feely matt finish that gives an almost raw finish to the wood and highlights the beautiful grain (as seen on the butterfly chair below).
I fell in love with the two-toned wood pieces (excuse the dodgy photography please), the combined beech and walnut keeps these Mid-Century designs firmly on the pulse. The Windsor chair has been totally transformed with a black finish combined with striking electric blue Kvadrat Hallingdal fabric.
We also saw (and sat on!) some brand new collaboration pieces that are launching this month. As well as the Flow chair by Tomoko Azumi (featured in our Japanese Design story) the Nest sofa (see below) created with Italian designer Paola Navone; cocoons the lucky sitter in its rounded, steam-bent frame and large textural cushions.
Nest sofa, from £3,985
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