John & Sylvia Reid S-Range design pedigree
Mid-century style is currently enjoying a huge renaissance, with the patterns, textiles, ceramics and furniture of the 1950s and 60s still feeling incredibly fresh, relevant and innovative.
Many of the modernist designs, for which this era is especially famous, permeated the national consciousness as a result of the 1951 Festival of Britain – a five-month long celebration of British science, technology, industrial design, architecture and the arts, which was centred on London’s South Bank. The Festival not only inspired a new generation of artists and designers, but also became the launch pad for some of Britain’s greatest design pioneers; Robin Day, John and Sylvia Reid and Sir Terence Conran.
The architects of the modern movement, like John and Sylvia Reid, left little to chance, designing not only buildings to the modern aesthetic, but everything they contained. The furnishings of this era were notably devoid of decoration which made their shape and form the focal point of the designs – simplicity of form directing the spotlight to their craft and precision.
John and Sylvia Reid’s most enduring designs were those they created for Stag during their 10-year alliance with the British furniture manufacturer, and which saw their initial range of bedroom furniture selected for the Design Index by the Council of Industrial Design.
The S-Range, their first collection of living and dining furniture, which they created in 1960, took inspiration from the prevailing Scandinavian designers of the time, such as Hans Wegner. It included low slung cabinets in teak, with projecting ‘tab’ handles and V-shaped legs in satin-plated steel. Described by Design magazine in 1960 as “one of the outstanding furniture ranges of the year”, their flexible ergonomic designs have become the most enduring to come out of the era, with original pieces now being on-trend collectors’ items.
Said Sylvia Reid of her and husband John’s work: “We were trained to look at everything from a design point of view. We thought carefully about how everything was made and about it being practical to live with.”
It is a design ethos which is still incredibly pertinent and relevant today.
Once progressive and aspirational, mid-century designs are now valued for their understated finesse and simple lines, which creates a stylish framework for self-expression and today’s multi-functional living.
John and Sylvia Reid met whilst studying at the Regent Street Polytechnic School of Architecture in London at the beginning of the Second World War. There they formed a relationship which was to sustain them throughout a fruitful and prolific design partnership, which became the foundation of their happy, lifelong marriage. Three Milan Triennale medals and four Design Council awards testify to the virtuosity and breadth of range of their architectural and industrial designs.