It was recently announced that under a new law in Britain, designers’ copyrights on furniture designs will be extended from 25 years to 70 years. This has caused massive shake ups in the industry as under the new legislation, those who are selling unlicensed furniture designs will be at risk of huge fines and even jail terms.
Currently many classic and quintessential British designs are available to buy as reproduction items at a fraction of the cost of the original. This is ideal for consumers like you and me, those who would love to own items like these but are unable to because of high prices. However it’s not ideal for the designers, who are often having their work ripped off. The new law means that reproductions will be more difficult and costly to source, however the original designers of iconic pieces will be protected for much longer.
In celebration of classic British furniture designs, Distinctive Chesterfields have designed a series of illustrations showing off pieces that we’re proud to call our own. Some of these may now be subject to the new copyright legislation, some are far away from the reaches of it and may be considered antique, but all are stunning examples of classic British furniture design.
Ercol Pebble Tables
The nest of curved tables often called the “Pebble” nest has become a typical example of a mid-century design classic. Designed by Ercol’s founder in 1956, Lucian Ercolani, from whom the brand takes its name, the nest usually comprises of 3 rounded edge tables in decreasing sizes. In recent years they have become available in various wooden and coloured finishes, but the original and most sought after is a blonde wood.
Roberts Portable Radio
Roberts Radio Company was set up by Harry Roberts in partnership with Leslie Bismead in 1932, but it wasn’t until 1956 that their infamous ‘Revival’ R66 design came into being. Inspired by the design of his wife’s handbag, this classic British design icon was a breakthrough in style while still retaining good sound quality.
The Anglepoise Lamp is an iconic British design, characterised by a perfect balance mechanism that was pioneered in the 1930s, originally developed by car engineer George Carwadine. It was reworked for the domestic market in 1935 with three springs rather than four. The Anglepoise Original 1227 was celebrated on its 75th anniversary in 2009 with a feature on a Royal Mail stamp.
The G-Plan Brandon sideboard is a typical example of early to mid-fifties post-utility contemporary design with its narrow splayed legs and streamlined look. The most fashionable finish on the original was the light oak, designed to complement brightly patterned wallpaper and carpets.
Ercol Studio Couch
The Ercol Studio Couch, also known as a Daybed, was introduced in 1956. Designed by Lucian Ercolani, it features a characteristic steam bent frame and arched arm rests with tapered spindles. It was devised to be both functional and stylish, with the ability to act as a large sofa and an occasional single bed for guests.
Mathmos Lava Lamp
Founded in 1963 by Edward Craven Walker, Mathmos is a British brand known for inventing and producing the original Lava Lamp. The first designs were based on an egg timer spotted by founder Craven Walker in a Dorset pub and developed using orange squash bottles. Today the Mathmos Lava Lamp is still handmade in the UK and filled with a unique Mathmos formula.
GPO Rotary Bakelite Telephone
Over time, the style of the General Post Office (GPO) telephone has changed from the old fashioned Candlestick design from the 1920s to the “revolutionary” Bakelite 162 introduced in the 1930s with its pyramid design to the 300 model desk phone that is most widely recognised.
Nathan Supper Table
The Nathan Supper Table is a classic and timeless design piece which is functional, practical and stylish. Designed around the rise of TV suppers in the home with a hinged table top, the collection has been in production since 1970. The most popular finishing option is contemporary style teak wood.
The iconic Chesterfield sofa refers to a davenport style sofa with arms and back of the same height with a lower seat base constructed out of deep buttoned leather. Story says that the term was taken from the commission of this piece of furniture by the fourth earl of Chesterfield, Philip Stanhope (1764-1773).
Beswick Flying Ducks
The trio of ceramic flying mallard ducks derive from the home of English pottery, the Beswick Factory in Stoke-on-Trent and date back to 1938. They were part of a larger collection of other flying birds in five sizes including swans, swallows and kingfishers. Being at the affordable end of the spectrum, they became a regular site in mid-century middle class homes.
Nathan Furniture’s history dates back all the way to 1916 when Barnett Nathan had a vision to design elegant and contemporary furniture that offered quality and value. The Nathan Sideboard is a classic example of mid-century post-war retro furniture, most popular in teak and oak wood.
Axminster Carpets came to life in 1755 in its eponymous Devon town. The product was designed and created by Thomas Whitty in a style similar to Turkish rugs. Early versions of the carpet were like pieces of tapestry formed by creating handmade knots in the wool. Today original Axminster carpets can be found at Chatsworth House and Brighton Pavilion, but modern versions are still woven in Devon.