[Clockwise from the top left: V&A Pattern: Liberty & Co. by archivist Anna Buruma; Antelope Chair by Ernest Race; Pleasure Gardens print by Hans Tisdall; and Patrick Rylands re-issued 1970s bath toys. All images from the V & A.]
The fab Dowager Countess was taken aback by a swivel chair and an electrified chandelier but her great-grandchildren and their kids will see more transformative changes in Post-WWII Britain.
This other era of radical development is explored by the V & A in the soon-to-open British Design: 1948-2012. For the show, curators have pulled together more than 300 design objects representing British innovation at its strongest-- modernity often tempered by respect for the past, notes the museum. Exhibition visitors will see ceramics, furniture, glass, textiles, fashion, fine art, graphic design, photography, and, if I'm not mistaken, a never-before displayed Jaguar.
One of the stand-outs among the gift shop offerings is expected to be the re-issue of Ernest Race's graceful bent steel Antelope Chair with a moulded plywood seat in 'Festival of Britain' yellow. (This piece was originally commissioned to be used on the terraces outside the newly built Royal Festival Hall at the 1951 event; yellow was an official Festival color, so Race went with the sunny shade.) He came to work with steel because, at the end of WWII, he was given a brief to create durable, affordable furniture with non-rationed materials (no wood). The Antelope, with its delicately slatted back often compared to a Windsor chair and those Big Bang Theory molecular-looking ball feet, typifies Race's melding of Modern and Trad.
In 1970, Patrick Rylands's fish and bird bath toys won the Duke of Edinburgh's Design Award. His background in ceramics shines through in their sculptural, pick-me-up form. (A bit Eva Zeisel, no?) These have been re-issued too. The Liberty fabric book, pictured above, we discussed earlier, and Hans Tisdall's graphic design is highlighted here.
Related past post: Camera Happy: The V & A's photography exhibition, Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton.