Margaret Howell presents an exhibition that celebrates the plywood furniture designs of Isokon. Staged at Margaret Howell’s Wigmore Street HQ (until 5 November 2022), the display spans from 1936 to today, with designs by Marcel Breuer, Barber Osgerby and Jasper Morrison, as well as tools, moulds and templates from the workshop to give an additional insight into its history and practice.
‘Isokon furniture demonstrates the versatility and strength of plywood,’ comments Howell. ‘Light and malleable, [plywood] allows designers the freedom to produce furniture in an innovative and sculptural style. Isokon advanced the cause of international design in 1930s Britain – simple, minimal and still so modern.’
The history of Isokon started in 1931, when the workshop was founded by English entrepreneur Jack Pritchard and Canadian architect Wells Coates: Pritchard had asked Coates to design a building and the result of their partnership was the Lawn Road Flats in north London, which were completed in July 1934.
The flats became home to Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer and László Moholy-Nagy, who also collaborated with Pritchard, expanding the workshop’s scope. In particular, Breuer contributed several plywood designs to Isokon, creating chairs and tables for the brand.
Original pieces by Breuer are on display alongside contemporary designs, and the furniture is accompanied by 12 archive photographs of Isokon furniture and the Lawn Road Flats, which will become the Margaret Howell Calendar 2023.
To coincide with the exhibition, Margaret Howell has reissued a series of the Marcel Breuer 1936 ‘Nesting’ tables; made at Isokon’s Walthamstow workshop, the tables are in birch plywood and presented with a special Isokon and Margaret Howell stamp.
34 Wigmore St
London W1U 2RS
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Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.
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