10 March 2010

What we call ‘retro’ today was referred to as ‘contemporary’ in the 1950s.

Utility furniture was made during the war years to help those in desperate need for furniture, such as newly weds and families whose homes had been destroyed by the bombing. Some of the pieces looked plain and institutional, but the majority of it was simple and elegant. Utility was also significantly better than furniture most people could have bought before the war! 
  In 1951, public appreciation of modern design had a huge boost when the Festival of Britain opened. When King George VI officially opened the proceedings on 3rd May, it was a bright beacon of light, which promised a much better future. 
The Festival of Britain was a great marketing exercise for modern design and ‘contemporary’ emerged as the buzzword to describe modern furniture of the time. 
  Utility was modern and functional, where as contemporary was utility with attitude! Characterised by a lively use of colour, new materials, humour and lightness of structure, it appeared a dramatic contrast to wartime drabness. 
  Within this issue, we’ve touched on both; the common denominator being the effects that war had on materials, design and functionality. We look at the Anglepoise – the ‘ideal blackout lamp’, the attraction of the factory and engineers work lights in today’s home; the trend setting, bent steel furniture of Ernest Race, to the fine British engineering used to make the iconic English Rose kitchen.
Next month we bring you ‘Fashion & Textiles’, to coincide with numerous forthcoming events across the region. Once again we take a look at stylish icons such as Audrey Hepburn, mover and shaker Shirley Craven and the Hull Traders, Elegance at its best and the vintage fashion movement; along with a host of recommended specialist textile dealers.
If we don’t already know about you, please do get in touch!

 To find out more about the current issue visit: www.antiquexplorer.com 

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