ERCOL - BEST OF BRITISH - the story continues

Hi I wanted to do an up-date on ercol. It seems that the company is going from strength to strength, which is so good and promising to see in Britain. They have always made beautiful and high quality furniture and it seems now us Brits are finally realising it. They also have a great team of management there, who seems to be forward thinking, not only in reissuing key pieces from their midcentury catalogue, which had become design classics to commisioning new designers and being on trend now with their pilgrim range. There has always been a new england Quaker vibe to their designs, and it's good to see them continue this.

Also I received an email from Ian Cater who was Art Director for Ercol in the late 80's. He has kindly allowed me to print his email, which gives an insight into how very quickly and how hard it is for Furniture manufactures and designers to survive in the UK. Denmark has long celebrated and cherished its cabinet makers/designer and manufactures and finally I think we are.

"Just found your blog while looking for Lucienne Day fabrics and the name of Ercol caught my eye. I worked as an art director on the Ercol advertising account in the late 1980's and through most of the nineties in a period when many the old Windsor designs were being consigned to the scrapheap due to non-existent sales. With their spindly legs and fifties curves they did look like throwbacks in furniture showrooms of the day and in our market research people hammered them mercilessly. Unfortunately they didn't take much to Ercol's newer ranges either which, being incredibly well made by people who really cared from solid wood, joined and crafted with modern techniques based on traditional skills, were more expensive than most of the 'mass market' competition.
Lucien Ercolani, the then managing director and son of the founder took this very personally. He was a fantastic man, very principled and correct, generous and modestly self-effacing despite his achievements. He referred to the classic Windsor designs as 'our old friends' and was obviously upset as they were consigned to the scrapheap. Many had been kept on in the range simply out of respect for his father, as had many other processes at the factory. I think Lucien died last year and I haven't been involved with Ercol since the late 90's, but I think he would have been very pleased at the resurgence of interest in Ercol Windsor, insisting that good design would always be recognised.
There is an excellent store in Newbury called Octopus (worth checking out) selling 50's/60's Ercol and contemporary brands, I was in there last year and it reminded me that I have a fascinating film on VHS video made in the old Ercol factory in about 1988 and watching it again, it's all there, the good and the bad and the things that made Ercol totally unique even then. Things, I guess, are very different now, but as Don Pedel, the chief designer used to say to me, "what you do is here today-gone tomorrow. This chair will still be here in a hundred years time." And, of course, he was right." Ian Cater

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