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Umbrella stand - PEL model G7

PEL model G7

  • Object:

    Umbrella stand

  • Place of origin:

    Birmingham (made)

  • Date:

    1936-1937 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Pel Limited - Pel Furniture (manufacturers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Bent chromed tubular steel with enamelled drip tray

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Pel Ltd.

  • Museum number:

    W.87-1978

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Practical Equipment Ltd. was founded in 1931 by a consortium of steel tube manufacturers. The company emulated continental firms such as Thonet and wished to win the British market for metal furniture. This aim was boosted in their first year by winning the commission to furnish the London headquarters of the BBC in Langham Place.

Apart from a small minority, the British were resistant to what they felt was the cold, mechanical appearance of steel furniture for the home, and it proved more popular in public areas and work places. Manufacturers produced the furniture as a means of marketing steel tube, not for the utopian social concepts associated with European Modernism, the source of many of the designs.

Physical description

Umbrella stand of chromed tubular steel. The framework of chromed steel tubing consists of two lengths of tube with flat sealed ends bent to form three sides of a square with the two corners rounded. These are connected side by side near their bottom ends and just above their rounded corners by cross members fixed by screws. Between the two upper cross members are two further cross members unfixed. Between the lower two cross members hangs a shallow rectangular black enamelled metal tray with projecting curved ends.

Place of Origin

Birmingham (made)

Date

1936-1937 (made)

Artist/maker

Pel Limited - Pel Furniture (manufacturers)

Materials and Techniques

Bent chromed tubular steel with enamelled drip tray

Dimensions

Length: 49.5 cm, Width: 24.1 cm, Height: 48.3 cm

Object history note

This object was given to the V&A by Pel Ltd in 1978, following its exhibition at the Architectural Association in January – February 1977 (RF 77/285).

Historical context note

In 1931 Captain P.G. Carew and Major Huggins, directors of steel tube manufacturers Accles & Pollock, visited London’s Strand Palace Hotel. Inside, the pair saw chrome-plated tubular steel furniture, probably imported by the manufacturer Thonet and chosen for the interior by Oliver Bernard, the architect overseeing the building’s Art Deco refurbishment. Carew and Huggins realised tubular steel furniture could be a useful direction for their company to expand into, especially given the effects of the depression on industrial workers in Birmingham, where their factories were located. Bernard was contracted as consultant designer and Pel Limited was formed in July 1931 as a subsidiary of Accles & Pollock. One of Bernard’s first jobs was to design the company’s new showroom in Henrietta Place, London. The shop attracted affluent clientele, among them the Prince of Wales and Wallis Simpson.

This umbrella stand with its matching coat stand (W.88-1978) were of a type used in several luxury London hotels such as the Savoy and Claridges.

Descriptive line

British, 1936-7, chromed tubular steel, Pel Ltd.

Materials

Steel; Chromium

Techniques

Bending; Enamelling

Categories

Interiors; Furniture

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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