Luciano Randolfo Ercolani, Ercol’s founder was born in 1888 in a little country town in Italy. He moved to the East End of London with his parents some years later with the assistance of the Salvation Army. Whilst he was not a natural when it came to learning English he left school early to become a messenger boy whilst continuing to play in the Salvation Army Brass Band.
He would later apply to the Shoreditch Technical Institute to join a Furniture Design Course. He took drawing and design classes and then entered the City and Guilds exams in theory and construction of furniture. Harry Parker from Frederick Parker furniture (later known as Parker-Knoll) offered Lucian the chance to work with them and this was the start of Lucien’s working life in High Wycombe. Lucien also became life long friends with Ted Gommes whose family were to become founders of G-plan in the 1950s. He worked with them until he set up his own company in 1920.
Lucien established his own furniture factory with the financial help of some local businessmen. It was first called Furniture Industries but is today known as Ercol. In 1932 a local chair making business known as Skulls fell in to financial difficulties and Lucien Ercolani took this over and it enabled him to expand his business. Even today, Ercol’s chairmaking section is known as Skulls.
During the war the Ercol factory worked for the government making 25,000 tent pegs per day as well as munition boxes and other supplies. Both of Lucien’s sons Lucien B and Barry were prominent members of the RAF and Lucien B was shot down when returning from a raid in the English Channel. He managed to survive and was decorated for his service to the war.
In 1944 Lucien Ercolini accepted an offer from the Board of Trade to produce 100,000 low cost chairs. It took him 12 months to design and build machines to produce chairs quickly at a very low cost – their cost was 10s 6d for each chair. Lucien Ercolano realised that he could be a major part of post-war manufacturing. A month after the war ended the Britain Can Make it Festival was announced to be held at the V & A in London. He saw this as a wonderful opportunity to launch Ercols brand new range ‘The Windsor Collection’ which is something that we all associate with Ercol furniture today. Other designs would evolve later and many of them we still know and love today – such as the Loveseat (designed in 1956) and the Studio Couch. The stacking chair is also easily recognisable – these were produced in the thousands in the 1950s and 60’s and are still part of the Ercol Originals collection.
After being one of the founding members of the Furniture Makers Guild in 1951, Lucian R Ercolani was made Master of the Guild in 1957 which became a city livery guild in 1963. He was followed in this position by his two sons and his grandson over the next 4 decades. His granddaughter, Vicky, is also a liveryman of the company.
In June 1964 Lucian R Ercolani was awarded an OBE for services to UK design and manufacturing. After 82 years in the old factory in High Wycombe, Ercol moved into a purpose built 16,000 square metre factory on the outskirts of Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire. Designed by Horden Cherry Lee the building has won a number of awards for its architectural design and its environmental features.
When it comes to gifting, it’s often overwhelming to buy for every family member, let alone for the picky people in your life. At Vinterior we advise to buy practical yet special gifts that will be used for the every day – a stylish dining chair or piece of art that never goes out of style. When your gift is vintage, you’re going against the grain of mass-production and picking an object with a real story to tell. We’ve curated the selection below with our top picks for those picky people in mind. Enjoy!
For your dad’s study at home, this a rare desk light by Philips. Sharp design and super functional with heavy base and a perspex diffuser. It is in excellent condition and has been professionally rewired and PAT tested.
For the brother in-law who loves card and poker games. This is a stunning mid century retro teak Danish style teak flip top dining / poker table. The top simply lifts and flips to convert this from a dining table to a card table!
For your mother’s art studio (or living room!) a pair of John B. Salterini wicker chairs with wrought iron base. Salterini is known for his wrought iron garden furniture. These chairs are in a perfect condition and would make a stunning addition to any room.
For your film buff enthusiast brother this is the perfect gift! In 1972 United Artists released all seven James Bond 007 films as part of the Viva James Bond film festival. The poster offered here featuring Sean Connery, was used in various guises for all of the releases, with the film title and details being altered in the square depending upon the production, in this case Goldfinger.Condition report: This poster is folded as one would expect for issue to cinema, excellent condition overall with slight discolouration and tear where central folds meet, condition in accordance with age and use.
For your architect or design-lover partner. A pair of rosewood Senator Model 116 chairs designed by Ole Wanscher for France & Son, Denmark 1951. The original leather cushions are sprung and upholstered in a black leather with beautiful patina. This is a rare early rosewood model of the Senator series, later taken into production by Cado.
For your art-loving friend this Donald Dean painting of a shell and jug is an excellent vintage find. The piece comes complete with an original Donald Dean brochure from his 1961 Shipley Art Gallery Gateshead Exhibition where this piece was exhibited.
This is the perfect gift for your yogi-loving aunt, especially if she’s just back from travelling to a retreat in the far East. This is an interesting and very unusual bronze bust of the famous four-faced Buddha. This high quality hot cast solid bronze was produced using the traditional “lost wax” process, otherwise known as the “cire perdue” method.
For the dapper, bachelor uncle, a 1970’s Pierre Cardin, spherical cocktail bar, with rose perspex internal bottle and glass holders. Clear perspex lifting lid, on three chrome and perspex legs with castors. Some mottling on the chrome and legs, otherwise in good condition for it’s age.
For your sister, a wonderful traditional handwoven Swedish rug made from a mix of blues with black stripes. Perfect for a hallway, new nursery, or even kitchen! Made from cotton and handmade.
We fell hard for this getaway that Lisa Jones, a London-born fashion buyer redeveloped with her husband on New York’s remote Shelter Island. What emerged (after purchasing the home in it’s original seventies condition) was a bright, Danish-inspired lakefront home that showcases Lisa’s natural curator eye with many vintage pieces sourced online. Keen to stick to a minimalist, Scandinavian palette, we love how her choice of pieces appear timeless against fabric choices of pink, dark green and hints of yellow. Fashionable Moroccan rugs bring a cosy texture to each room, while a vintage Persian rug punctuates the white-washed oak kitchen floor. Design classics such as the vintage Børge Mogensen daybed and contemporary Hans Wegner for Carl Hansen dining set, work together seamlessly. We can only imagine that this spacious weekend retreat will continue to look timeless for many years to come.
Vintage is the new modern, or at least that’s how interior design trends stand right now. Blame it on the growing popularity of classic décor inspired by Great Gatsby, The Great Budapest Hotel, or Amélie, but retro glam is here to stay. Still, vintage finds should be carefully incorporated into a contemporary home to avoid a haphazardly put-together impression. However chic mix-and-match décors may be, there are a few principles you should bear in mind when enriching your home with finds belonging to different design eras. Here are five home styling tricks professional designers follow when introducing vintage elements into a modern home setting.
1. Contrasts for Vintage Eclecticism
Vintage elements in bold hues will infuse a minimalist home with a sense of visual opulence and eclecticism. As a general rule, most successful old-meets-new décor blends rely on the power of contrasts for aesthetic interest, which is why you should pay attention to the colors of vintage furnishings you’re introducing into your home. An antique statement piece in a bold tone will feature as a focal point in a color-coordinated room, and if you’re after superior effects, you can also draw on contrasts in terms of texture and shape when incorporating retro elements in your home.
2. Mix ‘n’ Match for Boho Aesthetics
Using furniture pieces belonging to different periods of design history will create a boho chic backdrop in your nest. If you’re a firm believer in visual eclecticism, you can try to blend several styles in your living area rather than using just a few vintage pieces as accents. The mix-and-match formula will help create a décor that exudes personality, depth, and interest, allowing the vintage pieces to blend in neatly rather than commanding attention or overwhelming the rest of the décor. For eclectic traveler home aesthetics, you can round off the bohemian-style décor with ornaments and mementoes salvaged on your travels.
3. A Sophisticated Antique Statement
However visually engaging, eclectic style is not everyone’s top favorite, but it doesn’t mean that you have to settle for a no-frills modern décor. A single vintage statement piece of furniture will be enough to add character and aesthetic value to your living area, but you should select it with care to prevent a brash décor impression. For instance, an antique leather sofa with a foot stool can double as the living room centerpiece, whereas a bold Victorian-esque wardrobe perched by glass-paneled aluminium sliding doors will add depth and contrast to a modern open-plan living area.
4. Thinking outside the Vintage Box
When using vintage finds as décor accents, you don’t necessarily have to stick to conventions. A daring blend of retro and modern pieces such as a vintage desk topped by a modern ergonomic chair will unleash aesthetic dynamicity and add the element of visual surprise to the home office or living room. On that note, a mid-century chest of drawers will look at home as the TV console in a nature-inspired living room, while a retro bureau can be used as the home bar for a sense of playfulness and creativity.
5. Where Retro and Country Collide
Most vintage pieces come in solid wood with a matte paint coat, but if you wish to liven up the home atmosphere with a dose of rustic charm, you can overhaul antique pieces following in the country style footsteps. Wire-brushed wood cabinetry or tables with bold grain will seamlessly blend into the modern décor structured around pastel colours, stone and/or timber flooring, and organic textiles. For bonus aesthetic points, you can dress contemporary laminate floors with an antique rug, and round off the vintage décor with a few country-inspired extras such as a rustic coat hanger, decorative signboards, baskets, and a distressed table or floor lamp.
Introducing antique pieces into a contemporary-style living area will increase the aesthetic value of your home and infuse it with character and timeless elegance. There’s a host of ways in which you can pull off the old-meets-new décor, so feel free to experiment with different approaches – just don’t let your modern-looking living area go without retro touches.
Shop at Vinterior, Britain’s greatest selection of vintage, mid century, antique and design furniture & home decor. Shop from the best independent furniture boutiques on one platform.
Zoe Clark is a journalist, freelance stylist and blogger. She is a visual storyteller and aesthetician by heart who often writes about decorating and DIY ideas. She loves sparking creativity in people and giving them ideas for their own spaces. You can find her blogging at Smooth Decorator.