Many of us have grown up with Ercol furniture – not least due to the presence of mighty local firms such as Gillies of Broughty Ferry.
This year marks Ercol’s centenary. Lucian Ercolani founded Furniture Industries Ltd, which became Ercol, in 1920, after moving to London from his native Tuscany. His three brothers arrived from Italy to join the business.
Ercolani’s goal was to make furniture that was well designed and made by craftsmen who took pride in their work. For a time he worked with Frederick Parker, later of Parker Knoll fame.
Post-war, the company exhibited its utility furniture at the Britain Can Make it Exhibition at the V&A in 1945 and at the Festival of Britain in 1951. In the mid-1950s it became synonymous with light and functional furniture, increasingly using elm and beech for its range. And today’s interior designers love the scale, colour and ‘modernity’ of this mid-20th Century development.
One of its most famous designs at this time was the Studio Couch, created by Lucian Ercolani and introduced in 1956. It was designed to function both as a large sofa and an occasional single bed for guests. It featured steam bent arms, its back was made from solid elm and the rest from beech. Its distinctive backrest is known nowadays as the ‘surfboard’ back.
Last month Bedford auctioneers W. & H. Peacock featured an example.
Even with wear to its upholstery and some scuff marks, the couch was complete and structurally sound, and was always likely to challenge pre-sale hopes of £500-£700.
Lucian Ercolani for Ercol, very collectable and reeking with style, the couch sold away at £850.
Picture: Ercol Studio Couch, £850 (W. & H. Peacock).
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