Reissued Bauhaus chair by Barber & Osgerby adds to a long line of Isokon hits

Anchored by the Bauhaus ideaology, Isokon Plus reissue the ‘Shell’ birch plywood chair by Barber & Osgerby

Shell chair by Barber & Osgerby
‘Shell’ chair, £643, by Barber & Osgerby, for Isokon Plus.
(Image credit: Richard Foster)

Isokon Plus is a company so rich in history that it’s a struggle to sum it up in a few short paragraphs. It was founded in London in 1931 as the Isokon Furniture Company by entrepreneur Jack Pritchard, who, seduced by the workings of the Bauhaus, wanted to bring a taste of European modernism back to Britain.

His ambitious plans to build homes, as well as the furniture within them, began with the Lawn Road Flats in Hampstead, north London (now known as the Isokon Building). At the time of its completion in 1934, it was the first modernist block to be built in the UK.

Pritchard’s ideology attracted Bauhaus pioneers Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, Swiss architect Egon Riss and midcentury heavyweight Ernest Race, who each worked with the company to create pieces using Pritchard’s favourite material, plywood. In the 1980s, Chris McCourt took the helm and brought with him a new wave of designers, including Barber & Osgerby.

The pair would create a number of pieces for the brand, including the ‘Loop’ coffee table that launched their careers, and the ‘Shell’ chair, which was reissued this autumn. Designed in 2004, the birch plywood chair complements Barber & Osgerby’s 2000 ‘Shell’ table (itself an homage to Breuer’s Isokon dining table).

The design stands out for its pure form, achieved by moulded contours and an absence of mechanical fixings. Meanwhile, the paper-thin yet sturdy construction, which evokes the white cards used for architectural model making, is testament to the brand’s expert engineering. Visually stunning and ergonomic to boot, this piece, like many others in the Isokon family, is sure to stand the test of time. §

A version of this article originally appeared in the November 2019 issue of Wallpaper* (W*248)


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