Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A Dundee
Scottish Design Galleries, V&A Dundee

Allegro armchair

Armchair
1949 (designed), ca. 1950 (manufactured)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Wartime innovations often found peacetime applications. In this instance, the Southampton-based manufacturer of helicopters, Cierva Autogiro, had developed techniques of laminating and shaping wood to make strong and light helicopter blades. The same technology was applied to this chair soon after the close of the war. Over one hundred layers of wood were bonded together under high frequency electrical pressure with phenoformaldehyde, a synthetic resin. It was designed by an eminent Scottish architect, Basil Spence, and made by a firm based in Glasgow, H. Morris & Co. However, new technologies did not come cheap. In 1950 the chair was advertised at £31 18s 3d, at a time when the average British annual income was just £101.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Laminated wood, leather upholstery
Brief description
Allegro armchair, designed by Basil Spence, manufactured by H. Morris & Co.; laminated wood with leather seat upholstery; Glasgow, 1949
Physical description
Armchair constructed from laminated wood, leather covered seat, flared open arms and square open back, with five narrow vertical spindles.
Dimensions
  • Height: 85.6cm
  • Width: 46.5cm
  • Depth: 50cm
Credit line
Given by H. Morris & Co.
Historical context
The Allegro dining suite was designed using technology developed by Cierva Autogiro Co., Southampton, for the manufacture of helicopter blades during the second world war. Over one hundred laminations were bonded together under high frequency electrical and hydraulic presure with pheno-formaldehyde resin adhesive.
Summary
Wartime innovations often found peacetime applications. In this instance, the Southampton-based manufacturer of helicopters, Cierva Autogiro, had developed techniques of laminating and shaping wood to make strong and light helicopter blades. The same technology was applied to this chair soon after the close of the war. Over one hundred layers of wood were bonded together under high frequency electrical pressure with phenoformaldehyde, a synthetic resin. It was designed by an eminent Scottish architect, Basil Spence, and made by a firm based in Glasgow, H. Morris & Co. However, new technologies did not come cheap. In 1950 the chair was advertised at £31 18s 3d, at a time when the average British annual income was just £101.
Bibliographic references
  • Studio Yearbook of Decorative Art, 1949
  • Joel, David. The Adventure of British Furniture. 1953.
  • Design. Vol.1, p.8, 1949
  • Goldfinger, Erno. British Furniture Today. 1951
  • House and Garden. April-May 1950
Collection
Accession number
CIRC.183-1951

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Record createdMarch 1, 2007
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