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Design as a cabinet decision; These Scandinavian influenced mid-century modern classics make a great alternative to flat-pack furniture.

It used to be called post war furniture. Now the trend-setters know it as "Mid-Century Modern". For my part, what it's called is immaterial.

Anything that helps the ailing antique furniture market and persuades buyers to put two fingers up to the retailers who peddle flat-packed chipboard has to be good.

Except it's not antique, but does that matter either? There was a time when the organisers of the famous Chelsea Antiques Fair, founded in 1950, insisted that everything on sale there should date from before 1830. As taste changed and dealers found stock becoming more difficult to source, the dateline slipped to 1860.

Then the 100-year rule, the yardstick used by Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs to define an antique, came and went. Now the fair later this month has been rebranded, adding "Art and Design" to its name. It reflects the fact that collectors, particularly young, home-building collectors, want 20th century, the kind of stuff their parents purchased when they couldn't afford Georgian and Victorian.

The die-hard purists might cringe at the idea of filling their homes with British and (perhaps even worse) Danish furniture from the 1950s, 60s and 70s, but you have to admit, it's really stylish.

How it might work in a half-timbered 17th-century cottage or a High Victorian villa is a matter of opinion, but particularly for the new homes and apartments being built today, it's very cool. It also represents value for money and, unless the trend for minimalist modern dies a death, it should remain so, unlike the flatpacks.

It's interesting - but not surprising with the world recovering from the "war to end all wars" - how Modernism kicked out the flamboyance of Victoriana and the Art Nouveau movement in the 1920s.

Architects and designers moved away from superfluous decoration and concentrated on functionalism, new materials to replace those in short supply, industrialisation, and inexpensive furniture for the masses.

Interestingly, it was Germany that led the way, notably with the Bauhaus, founded in 1919 by This 1960s sideboard was by Arne Hovmand-(1919-1989) for manufacturer architect Walter Gropius (1883-1969) while in France, the Swiss-born architect and designer Charles-Edouard Jeanneret (1887-1965) called Le Corbusier, extolled the virtues of a house as a "machine for living".

In Scandinavia, its designers accepted the ideals of minimalism but with softer, more organic, curvy lines than the stark tubular steel, chrome of the Europeans. It was they, with the Americans, who led rosewood designed Olsen the Danish Mogens Kold the way following the Second World War. Manufacturing processes introduced for the war effort were turned over to furniture production, notably the new methods for bonding wood. When coupled with the ergonomic designs of such innovators as Alvar Aalto (1898-1976); Charles (1907-1978) and Ray Eames (1912-1988) and Hans (1891-1955) and Florence Knoll (b. 1917) the revitalisation of the industry was well on the way.

Imported teak and rosewood was plentiful and cheap and was used while improved plywood moulding techniques, fibreglass, plastics, Perspex and wood laminates were all toyed with by American designers.

The Festival of Britain in 1951 was an international showcase for British designers such as Robin Day (1915-2010) who grew up in the furniture-making town of High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. The "grandmaster of furniture design", he created the furniture for two open-plan living room and dining room settings for the Homes and Gardens Pavilion, while Newcastleupon-Tyne's Ernest Race (1913-1964) designed his famed Antelope chair specially for the festival.

Sir Gordon Russell (1892-1980) is perhaps one of the most important British designers.

He began to exhibit his own furniture in the 1920s, first at Cheltenham Arts and Crafts Show, then at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and finally at the Paris Exhibition, where in 1925 he won a gold medal for a cabinet. It was made in the Arts and Crafts style with internal drawers lined with boxwood, ebony and laburnum.

He subsequently headed the government's wartime Utility Furniture Design Panel scheme, and anything bearing the distinctive Utility mark is now collected in its own right.

It was Russell who influenced the creation of the Festival of Britain in the first place. He became the first director of the Design Council, an institution that has been copied all

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This rosewood, eight-drawer, organic form desk was designed by Danish architect Svend Madsen and dates from the 1960s. It has curved top, bookshelf and cabinet at the back

TICKET OFFER | AMONG the exhibitors at the rebranded Art-Design-Antiques Chelsea Fair later this month is Derbyshire-based Hayloft Mid Century which specialises in British and Danish furniture from the 1950's, 60s and 70s. The fair is held in Chelsea Old Town Hall the fashionable King's Road and runs from March 17-20. Admission costs PS5 per person, but in a special offer to readers, organisers Penman Fairs will admit two free on production

This rosewood desk by Jorgen Pedersen was made in the 1960s by E. Pedersen & Son. It has a floating top and stands on chrome legs ALL PHOTOS BY HAYLOFT MID CENTURY

Below: A 1960s rosewood and Verde marble sideboard designed by Robert Heritage of Birmingham. In 1968, he and Ernest Race designed the furniture for the QEII
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Date:Mar 12, 2016
Words:858
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