Not currently on display at the V&A

Cabinet

1928 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Maurice Adams saw himself as the natural successor to the great furniture makers of the eighteenth century and had ambitious plans for 20th-century British interior design, including a proposed 'Maurice Adams house', in which the architecture and interior furnishings would be designed entirely by Adams throughout, in a streamlined, Georgian style. All Adams's furniture was made by hand in Gloucester and displayed in Adams's showroom in Portman Square, London.

This little side cabinet, designed for the sitting room, was part of Adams's 'Grosvenor' range and could be made to fit any specification.The interior was fitted with a cupboard which Adams suggested might store books or music. 'Some form of side table or cabinet is necessary in every drawing room', Adams observed, in his treatise on furniture and interior design, Modern Decorative Art, published in 1930. Adams used such publications as a platform from which to expound the virtues of interior designers, warning readers of the dangers of undertaking decorative schemes without 'expert advice'.

The Grosvenor range was distinguished by its highly finished burr-walnut veneers. This emphasis on glossy veneers is characteristic of much of Adams's work. The designer praised the marble-like effect of veneers and their ability to exploit the 'natural beauty' of figured woods. The curvaceous shape of this cabinet displays the veneers to maximum effect.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Cabinet
  • Keys
Materials and techniques
Laminated gaboon, black walnut and probably mahogany, with walnut veneer
Brief description
Cabinet, designed by Maurice Adams and manufactured by Maurice Adams Ltd., Gloucester, 1928
Physical description
Walnut-veneered cabinet, flat-backed and curved at front, with door in front, hinged at left.
Dimensions
  • Height: 92cm
  • Width: 97.5cm
  • Depth: 45cm
Gallery label
'GROSVENOR' SIDE CABINET - No. 424-C Designed by Maurice S.R. Adams (British, died 1941) Made by Maurice Adams Ltd, Gloucester Laminated wood veneered in walnut 1928 This cabinet is illustrated in the designer's 1930 book, Modern Decorative Art. Given by Maurice S.R. Adams W.49-1934(1989-2006)
Credit line
Given by the designer
Object history
Object sampling carried out by Jo Darrah, V&A Science; drawer/slide reference 6/12.
Historical context
This is a sophisticated piece of furniture with historical precedents, being essentially a reworking of an eighteenth-century commode. Adams, perhaps inspired by the success of the leading French Art Deco cabinetmaker Emile Jacques Ruhlmann, produced a spare design relying on the properties of the veneer decoration. This epitomises what Adams himself called the King George V style in 'My Book of Furniture' published in 1926.



This cabinet represents the troubled and contradictory spirit of British taste between the wars: it is distinctly modern but draws on well-worn historical forms. By 1931 Adams, who was trained as an architect, had turned to flashy Moderne forms.
Summary
Maurice Adams saw himself as the natural successor to the great furniture makers of the eighteenth century and had ambitious plans for 20th-century British interior design, including a proposed 'Maurice Adams house', in which the architecture and interior furnishings would be designed entirely by Adams throughout, in a streamlined, Georgian style. All Adams's furniture was made by hand in Gloucester and displayed in Adams's showroom in Portman Square, London.



This little side cabinet, designed for the sitting room, was part of Adams's 'Grosvenor' range and could be made to fit any specification.The interior was fitted with a cupboard which Adams suggested might store books or music. 'Some form of side table or cabinet is necessary in every drawing room', Adams observed, in his treatise on furniture and interior design, Modern Decorative Art, published in 1930. Adams used such publications as a platform from which to expound the virtues of interior designers, warning readers of the dangers of undertaking decorative schemes without 'expert advice'.



The Grosvenor range was distinguished by its highly finished burr-walnut veneers. This emphasis on glossy veneers is characteristic of much of Adams's work. The designer praised the marble-like effect of veneers and their ability to exploit the 'natural beauty' of figured woods. The curvaceous shape of this cabinet displays the veneers to maximum effect.
Collection
Accession number
W.49-1934

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Record createdFebruary 8, 2000
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