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  • Place of origin:

    Winkworth (manufactured)

  • Date:

    ca. 1984 (designed)
    ca. 1987 (manufactured)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Carter, Ronald (designer)
    Peter Miles Furniture Ltd (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ash and pine

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Benugo

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

In November 1985 the V&A opened the New Restaurant (as it was then known) in the vaulted brick basement of the Henry Cole Wing (which had been built as the School of Naval Architecture in 1871). The furniture was designed by Ronald Carter, who had been appointed a Royal Designer for Industry in 1971 for his furniture design. The New Restaurant later gained notoriety as the 'Ace caff with quite a nice museum attached' -- as it was promoted in a late-1980s advertisement for the V&A. Carter had originally designed this bench to be used outdoors at the International Garden Festival staged in Liverpool in 1984, but he never submitted the design to the organizers. Instead, the first time it was made was for the V&A, at a cost of £740 each. Five benches like this were specified for the foyer outside the restaurant, each with a low table. The same model was later used in Terminal 4 at Heathrow Airport.

The simple right-angular joinery of this furniture derives from Arts and Crafts traditions. Nothing is superfluous and there is little in the way of decoration, aside from the pierced holes in the back splats. A slight concave curve to the seat and back enliven the design. The furniture was particularly durable and remained in service in the New Restaurant until its closure in November 2006.

Physical description

Bench made of various timbers with four legs at the corners. The seat is slightly concave in plan corresponding to the curve of the back. The high back is composed of side rails continuous with the back legs and a single curved top rail, infilled with 19 splats, each pierced with a circular hole top and bottom. The padded seat is covered with tan leather.

Place of Origin

Winkworth (manufactured)


ca. 1984 (designed)
ca. 1987 (manufactured)


Carter, Ronald (designer)
Peter Miles Furniture Ltd (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Ash and pine


Height: 1120 mm, Width: 1520 mm, Depth: 590 mm total, including depth of concave seat

Object history note

Part of the furnishings of the lobby of the V&A 'New Restaurant' opened in the basement of the Henry Cole Wing in November 1985 and closed in November 2006. Five such benches were specified, with low tables en-suite. Unlike the other furniture from the New Restaurant (W1to3-2007) this does not have a Milburns Restaurant inventory label.

Historical context note

Ronald Carter originally designed this bench for the Liverpool International Garden Festival, staged in 1984, but did not submit the design. The first place it was used was at the V&A, and it was later used in Heathrow Terminal 4 and in the USA.

Descriptive line

Ash and pine bench, back of 19 pierced splats and tan leather seat, designed by Ronald Carter ca. 19874and manufactured ca. 1987 by Peter Miles Furniture Ltd, Winkworth.


Ash (wood); Pine


Furniture; Woodwork


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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