Bookmarks: 100 Midcentury Chairs

100 Midcentury Chairs book on a vintage Ercol stacking chair by the fireside | H is for Home

We’ve had a few cold, wet and windy days here in Todmorden recently – perhaps even some snow tonight. So it’s wood-burner lit, 6 Music radio on – and time to catch up with some recently arrived magazines and books.

100 Midcentury Chairs book cover by Lucy Ryder Richardson

This edition of Bookmarks comes courtesy of a lady we first featured on our blog five years ago.

Grass-seated chair designed by George Nakashima

Lucy Ryder Richardson is the co-founder of Modern Shows and is the author of this newly published book, 100 Midcentury Chairs.

Paimio chair designed by Alvar Aalto

As the title says, the author has chosen 100 chairs (and stools) from the era to highlight; some that are very famous – like Arne Jacobsen’s Ant and Egg chairs – and others that are less well known.

Chieftain Chair designed by Finn Juhl and executed by Niels Vodder

She interviewed the children and relatives of the designers to create unique portraits of each chair…

Danish furniture designer, Finn Juhl

…the designers’ personal profiles and back stories, their influences, any specific sites that chairs were intended for or functions of the furniture, production techniques & processes and so on.

Charles and Ray Eames designed DCW chair

We love snippets of information such as Alvar Aalto designing the Paimio Armchair specifically for the tuberculosis hospital in Paiomo, south west Finland. It’s form is designed to position the tuberculosis patient at just the right angle to help them breath as they rested & recuperated. He was actually commissioned to design the whole hospital, so it’s full of his genius work.

Furniture and product designer, Charles Eames

And how about, Bruno Mattheson, designer of the Eva Chair, “perfecting the art of sitting by studying the shape his body made when he fell back into a snowdrift at different angles”.

J16 chair designed by Hans Wegner

The pages are dotted with quotes from the designers themselves, including Hans J. Wegner, Xavier Pauchard, Eero Saarinen and Charles Eames.

JH550 Peacock Chair designed by Hans Wegner

Pieces are featured in chronological order, spanning 40 years from the early 1930s to the early 1970s.

Hans Wegner's top 10 chairs

Interesting and informative, you’ll expand your knowledge of furniture design no end, and with almost 200 pages of full colour photographs, you’ll be able to swoon at chair heaven all along the journey.

Stack of Hillestak chairs designed by Robin Day for S Hille and Co

And it’s not just furniture we learned about – the book is full of little anecdotes such as the fact that Ettore Sottsass’ red Valentine typewriter was launched on Valentines Day, 1970. Who knew?!

Ant Chair designed by Arne Jacobsen

The directory at the back of the book contains an extensive list of international midcentury modern furniture dealers, auctions, fairs and events.

International directory of Midcentury furniture dealers

It’s a new, must read resource for all modernist furniture fans and collectors.

Egg Chair designed by Arne Jacobsen

It’s one of those great books to dip in and out of – a few pages at a time with a cup of tea!

Cherner Armchair designed by Norman Cherner for Plycraft

We do love a nice chair – in fact we’ve probably got about 10 more chairs than we actually need in our house. We’ve got another hundred now – but these can all fit neatly on a bookshelf!

UP5 Donna Chair designed by Gaetano Pesce for C&B Itaila

This wonderful book comes highly recommended indeed and will provide us with an invaluable reference in future.

Synthesis 45 Typist Chair, Z9/r designed by Ettore Sottsass for Olivetti

Buy yourself a copy of 100 Midcentury Chairs by Saturday 19th November here, and get FREE entry to the following day’s Midcentury Modern Show at Dulwich College, London. You’ll even be able to get it signed by the author. Alternatively, you can find it available on AbeBooks, Amazon or Hive.

Lucy Ryder Richardson signing 100 Midcentury Chairs

[Many thanks to Pavilion Books for the review copy]

Friday Folks – Lucy Ryder Richardson

"Friday Folks" blog post banner

shelves with midcentury modern items including vintage Catherineholm enamel bowls and folk art tile

This week’s Friday Folks contributor is Lucy Ryder Richardson of Midcentury Modern show fame.

As regular readers know, we’re huge fans of Midcentury modern, and much of our business is based around this period – so it’s great to feature one of the leading lights in events showcasing the era.

The next Midcentury.Modern show at Dulwich College, London takes place on 20 March 2011. The last show received an unprecedented number of visitors, with over 3,000 through the door in just 6 hours!

In testament to the popularity and success of Mid.Mod, Lucy & Petra will host their first ever show at Lord’s Cricket Ground which will be held on 15 May.

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Who are you & what do you do?
Hi, I am Lucy Ryder Richardson, one half of the female powerhouse behind Midcentury Modern. I say that tongue in cheek but Petra Curtis, my business partner should get a mention.

Lucy Ryder Richardson

vintage green anglepoise lamp

How did you get into the business?
Love of the era and lack of shops in Dulwich doing the kind of furniture and design we love.

vintage table and chairs

Who or what inspires you?
Our children, our 60s homes, Scandinavian and American modernism.

vintage grey anglepoise lamp

What has been your greatest success?
The latest show last Sunday at Midcentury.Modern was so packed we had to stop people at the door to let others out. We had one lady screaming to a friend, “My God, this show has become THE destination!” and all sorts of great feedback afterwards. But our most exciting moment was when Time Out made us one of their top ten attractions for the whole of 2009 with no other design show mentioned. They now regularly make us a top pick and we are very very grateful to them and Elle Decoration (our main media backer) for all their support.

collection of stacked vintage wooden chairs

Have you got any advice for someone wanting to break into the business?
Never listen when people say it can’t be done and always follow your heart rather than trends. Upcycling is currently the way to go. Look at Styling and Salvage, Higher Market Studio and Zoe Murphy but essentially, do your own thing.

Chris Eckersley 'Arden' chairs
Chris Eckersley sideboard