Ercol lovers! There are many of you out there, and this blog’s for you – if you’re already an aficionado, you can simply nod along wisely, but if you’re newly smitten, read on, and you might discover a little more about the obsession-forming brand of mid century furniture that is slowly taking over your house…
Ercol is a slightly strange beast – British made, but of Italian descent, and with a distinctly Scandinavian style – perhaps this helps explain the huge breadth of its popularity. Founded in 1920 in High Wycombe by Lucian Ercolani (there’s the Italian bit), they started out making heavy, period style pieces – not what you might think of as Ercol today. It was the styles developed in the post war utility ranges which really showcased the simplicity and high quality of construction that vintage lovers these days expect from Ercol. The Windsor range, making it’s debut at the 1951 Festival of Britain, received only a lukewarm reception from the design establishment but was enthusiastically received by the public – just as it is today.
The range of styles put out by Ercol is huge – dining chairs, easy chairs, children’s chairs, loveseats, settees, coffee tables, dining tables, sideboards – the list goes on and on. I was trying to think of the most iconic pieces, but there are several of those, too – the studio couch (or daybed), the ‘pebble’ side tables, the giraffe room divider, the butterfly chairs… for more detail than I can possibly give you here, ‘Ercol – Furniture in the making’ by Lesley Jackson is an excellent resource (it’s commonly referred to as ‘the bible’ in our house), covering both the history of the company and a fairly comprehensive (though not exhaustive) catalogue of designs.
We have had the pleasure of working on a lot of Ercol of the years – in fact, some Ercol stacking chairs were our first ever restoration project – and we’ve done everything from fully restored to full on paint jobs, from classic to funky and everything in between. Right now on the website we have a bit of both – a vintage Quaker set, and a bright Quaker single.
There seems to be little doubt that once you start with Ercol, it’s difficult to stop – it is the Pringles of the furniture world. For me, I think the attraction is not only the clean, simple design of the mid century ranges, or the timeless appeal of solid wood and clever craftsmanship, but also the versatility. A piece of Ercol can slip into almost any style of decor – the hardcore vintage recreationist, the Scandi cabin, the modern loft, the family home. This theory especially holds true once you start playing ‘spot the Ercol’ on TV. You’ll be amazed where it shows up!
There are plenty of places online where you can share your Ercol love/seek support for your addiction, including Facebook groups and forums. So go forth and love your Ercol, loud and proud, be it painted or pure! One piece of advice though – always buy vintage 😉