In between putting together the magazine each month and updating the website most hours, we’ve found a little time recently to create one of the centrepieces of the London Design Festival. The Wallpaper* Chair Arch if you haven’t already seen it, or read about it in the current issue (W*127), is currently stretching across the V&A’s John Madejski Garden.
Conceived by our Design Editor, Henrietta Thompson, the arch is a revival of a Victorian tradition when British furniture manufacturing was at its height. Special occasions would be celebrated with the building of an arch using the product each area manufactured. High Wycombe used chairs, the first known one being built in 1877 to mark Queen Victoria’s visit to Hughenden Manor.
We felt Britain deserved a pat on the back this year for services to design, which have surged of late, both in interest and success on a global scale, so we set about commissioning one of London’s most exciting resident designers (well versed in the art of chairs) to build an arch using chairs from one of Britain’s most historic manufacturers. Martino Gamper was the man, Ercol the manufacturer and together, with construction expertise from engineers Atelier One, the contemporary arch took shape.
Using 160 original Ercol stacking chairs, the arch, or arches to be precise, are self-supported, overlapping at their apex, in a sweeping, organic spring, playful, elegant and a perfect celebration of British design. It’s on show at the V&A until 27th September, but if you can’t see it in the flesh, we’ve chronicled the story in full with film.