Here at Nathan we are never slaves to ‘style over substance’. Stylish, yes. A browse at our elegant and contemporary Nathan Classic range or our re-issue of the original mid-century collection of lounge and dining furniture by John & Sylvia Reid confirms this, with both remaining sought after by designers and interiors fans since their respective launches in the 1960s and 70s.
Despite leaving behind the ‘annus horribilis’ that was 2020, 2021 also looks set to be a challenging year. The dream that all our freedoms and ‘normal’ ways of living would miraculously return, is unfortunately, for a while at least, set to remain a dream. This painful fact therefore means that our homes will continue to be our sanctuaries where we do pretty much all of our living. Remember the Mars Bar advert from the 1970s and 1980s (some readers might?!) advocating the importance of ‘Work, Rest and Play’? This mantra encapsulates perfectly what our homes need to be geared up to accommodate.
Moulded plastics and plywood, tubular steel and light wood veneers are indicative of the mid-century furniture movement, which at the time of course, had no such label. Back in the 1950s the looks which were proliferating the furniture stores and magazines were simply considered to be new, innovative and by definition, ‘modern’. The stiff backed, dark woods and heavy formality of the preceding era’s styles were pushed aside in favour of the experimental designs and shapes that harnessed the new technologies and materials developed during the war. Not only did furniture become sleek and elegant, but better still, it became functional. Chairs and sofas were (finally!) transformed into items you could relax and lounge on, and the new democratic modular mix and match ranges of furniture freed up the consumer from buying things in matching ‘suites’. Now furniture could be re-arranged, interchanged or even folded or stacked away… Such changes to how people thought about and used furniture was absolutely revolutionary, so much so that some of the best designs from the era remain relevant and highly sought after to this day.
Social media has literally lifted the net curtain on other people’s homes, giving us a colour popping ‘shop’ window into how the other half live… and here at Nathan, we love it! But creating your own Insta ready home comes with a caution, one which design visionary, the late Sir Terence Conran, perfectly understood. Despite making great design accessible to the majority, through famously pioneering flat pack furniture and introducing the duvet to a befuddled UK, he also in his later years campaigned tirelessly to protect British design by asking for it to be put on a parity with art, literature and music which is protected for 70 years after its creator’s death.
As our love affair with all things mid-century continues, we have dipped into our archives to uncover the story behind some of our own mid-century design classics, in particular the timeless and iconic S-Range.
Furniture News speaks to Nicholas Radford, owner of the Nathan Furniture Group, which encompasses Nathan Furniture, Sutcliffe, and now John & Sylvia Reid S-Range Furniture, a brand reissue which celebrates mid-century style.
Yorkshire Living carries a feature on the John & Sylvia Reid S-Range.
The Wheatsheaf pub in Camberley, Surrey, built in 1970 under direction from architects John and Sylvia, has been given Grade II listed status by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England.