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Smoker's cabinet
  • Smoker's cabinet
    Mackintosh, Charles Rennie, born 1868 - died 1928
  • Enlarge image

Smoker's cabinet

  • Place of origin:

    Isle of Man (manufactured)

  • Date:

    1916 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Mackintosh, Charles Rennie, born 1868 - died 1928 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ebonised wood, lined with cedar and inlaid with Erinoid (plastic)

  • Museum number:

    CIRC.856:1, 2-1956

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928), was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and became a leading architect and designer of the Glasgow School. This cabinet was commissioned by Wenman J. Bassett-Lowke, a manufacturer of scale models, who employed Mackintosh to renovate, extend and furnish his home, 78 Derngate, Northampton, in 1916. Mackintosh transformed the small mid-terrace house, designing furniture and furnishings for a series of dramatic interior spaces.

The angular form and bold inlays of this cabinet encapsulate the style that Mackintosh developed at Derngate, anticipating many of the design elements which became fashionable in Europe in the 1920s. It was designed for the hall, which Mackintosh enlarged, introducing a daring black colour scheme contrasted with triangular motifs, predominantly yellow, in the stained-glass panels and stencilled frieze. Like the other hall furniture, this diminutive cabinet was painted black; additionally, its surface was inlaid with bold yellow plastic triangles and lozenges to complement the décor.

Mackintosh was one of the first furniture designers to experiment with the use of plastic, a relatively new material, as an inlay. He had already used casein plastic inlays, probably German-made Galalith, in the Chinese Room at the Ingram Street Tea Rooms, Glasgow, in 1911. Bassett-Lowke, one of the founders of the Design and Industries Association in 1915, appears to have introduced Mackintosh to Erinoid, another casein plastic. Erinoid had been manufactured in England since 1914 and Mackintosh chose it for this piece.

Physical description

Black painted square cabinet (with hexagonal top) supported on four legs and with two shelves. The top is inlaid with yellow plastic (erinoid) squares; four legs are inlaid with yellow plastic (erinoid) triangles.

Place of Origin

Isle of Man (manufactured)


1916 (made)


Mackintosh, Charles Rennie, born 1868 - died 1928 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Ebonised wood, lined with cedar and inlaid with Erinoid (plastic)


Height: 59 cm, Width: 33 cm, Depth: 58.4 cm

Descriptive line

Smoker's cabinet, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, for 78 Derngate, Northampton, 1916.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Billcliffe, Roger. Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs. Guildford and London: Lutterworth, 1979. 278 p., ill. ISBN 0 7188 2376 1
Ideal Home. August 1920
Pevsner, Nikolaus. 'Charles Rennie Mackintosh'. In: Studies in Art, Architecture and Design. London. vol. 2
McLaren Young, Andrew. Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Architecture, Design and Painting'. Scotland (?): The Arrangers, 1968. 71 p., ill.
MacLeod, Robert. Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Feltham (Middlesex), 1968.
Young, Andrew McLaren, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1868-1928: Architecture, Design and Painting, Edinburgh: Scottish Arts Council, 1978.
Financial Times Weekend, 23/24 March2019, pp.14-15. 'Barbed-wire comforts; Enemy Aliens interned on the Isle of Man in the First World War crafted Charles Rennie Mackintosh's furniture', by Kate Youde

Labels and date

Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh
(British, 1868-1928)
Probably made by interned German craftsmen on the Isle of Man, Great Britain, 1916
Ebonised wood, lined with cedarwood and inlaid with 'Erinoid' (plastic)

The development of plastic early in the 20th century provided designers with a new material with immense potential. Mackintosh was one of the first to use it as inlay in furniture sometimes in place of ivory, a far more difficult material with which to work. [pre 1996]

Production Note

Probably made by interned German craftsmen on the Isle of Man, Great Britain.

Attribution note: Made for Wenman Joseph Bassett-Lowke, 78 Derngate, Northampton.
Reason For Production: Private


Wood; Cedar; Casein


Lining (process)


Scotland; Furniture; Smoking accessories; Plastic

Production Type



Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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