How to col­lect: Vin­tage French school fur­ni­ture

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The Pe­riod: Mid 20th cen­tury The Source: France The Ap­peal: Prac­ti­cal vin­tage school fur­ni­ture to add a retro ac­cent to a room, great for stor­age and dis­play

The French don’t prize retro fur­nish­ings in the same way as we Brits do, so many un­wanted pieces make their way over here. The de­sign prin­ci­ples em­braced by the French gov­ern­ment from the 1950s on­wards were straight­for­ward – school fur­ni­ture should be sim­ple, sturdy and func­tional. Per­haps the best-known de­sign was made of tubu­lar steel for the frame, topped with ply­wood or oak for the seat or desk. One of the chief sup­pli­ers was De­la­grave Paris, who pro­duced a Mo­bilier Sco­laire Modèles Dè­posés range. To iden­tify fur­ni­ture from this maker, look for a sig­na­ture brown and red la­bel on the un­der­side of chairs and desks. Stack­able bent­wood chairs in this style can be found from £30 to £200, de­pend­ing on size, con­di­tion and where you shop – bar­gains are more eas­ily found on Etsy and eBay than any­where else. The desks are more ex­pen­sive, think £200 plus, and come in a va­ri­ety of styles – some with draw­ers and cup­boards, then there are the small dou­ble desks with in­te­gral chairs made for pri­mary school chil­dren. Due to its pop­u­lar­ity, the blue­print tubu­lar steel and bent­wood fur­ni­ture con­tin­ued to be made into the 1960s and be­yond.

ABOVE Tubu­lar steel and bent­wood French school chair c1960s, £53, Pa­mono. Tubu­lar steel and oak French school desk c1950s, £200, Lassco. Rus­tic French school desk with in­te­gral cup­board, £225, Mus­tard Vin­tage.

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