Dame Vera’s star­ring part­ner­ship with a land­mark of de­sign

Home truths

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY NEWS -

Robin and Pa­tri­cia Sil­ver, The Home, Salts Mill, Sal­taire

A COU­PLE of weeks ago, we all shared in the cel­e­bra­tion of Dame Vera Lynn’s 100th birth­day. She be­came a na­tional trea­sure dur­ing the war. Her heart­felt songs brought hope and joy to the mil­i­tary at home and abroad as well as civil­ians in Bri­tain pon­der­ing the fate of their loved ones on sta­tioned over­seas.

She re­tained her enor­mous pop­u­lar­ity with records, on ra­dio and in con­certs and she even­tu­ally fronted her own tele­vi­sion shows, which aired ini­tially in 1969. By that time, she was a true ma­tri­ar­chal English icon, who was loved, re­spected and ad­mired.

In her pro­grammes, she sang along­side or sat upon a high bar stool. This was also an in­ter­na­tional icon of mod­ern fur­ni­ture de­sign, cre­ated by Harry Ber­toia in 1952 and it is still man­u­fac­tured to­day by Knoll In­ter­na­tional. Ber­toia was not re­ally a fur­ni­ture de­signer but a sculp­tor and jew­ellery artist but had pro­duced a small range of chairs that were con­tro­ver­sially and out­landishly mod­ern.

They were made from steel rods curved into sur­pris­ingly com­fort­able shapes with hun­dreds of welds. The struc­ture is clearly vis­i­ble: in­deed, the struc­ture is the chair. Up­hol­stery and seat pads were added but the mesh-like pat­tern of the steel rods can al­ways be seen.

While Vera Lynn was seen by mil­lions of view­ers on this very con­tem­po­rary piece of de­sign, we should not be sur­prised to learn that very few chairs were bought in this coun­try and that most homes even to­day do not have fur­ni­ture that is so rad­i­cal and pro­gres­sive. Not then, back in 1969 and not to­day.

Take a walk down many res­i­den­tial streets, stroll through a York­shire vil­lage or peer into most of the apart­ments in our city cen­tres and you will be far more likely to see a table lamp with a stretched fab­ric shade and lit­tle tas­sels or fringes than a slice of a Ber­toia clas­sic de­sign, 65 years on. Those lamps (there are floor-stand­ing and ceil­ing ver­sions too) are far more com­mon­place in the bay win­dows of front rooms than just about any­thing else.

Vera Lynn clearly had a good eye for a lit­tle ad­ven­tur­ous moder­nity but most of us feel com­fort­able and “at home” with a more tra­di­tional “cot­tagey” look. Some young ones to­day won’t re­mem­ber Vera Lynn in her hey­day and don’t know the tunes or the words to We’ll Meet Again or The White Cliffs of Dover but none­the­less feel in­clined to hark back to a Vic­to­rian or Ed­war­dian style of home decor with vel­vet or chintz fab­rics, Ch­ester­field so­fas, fire­places with man­tel shelves and of course those (now elec­tric) table lamps. Vera Lynn may be 100 years old but she and her adored songs, just like the very best of con­tem­po­rary de­sign will live on for gen­er­a­tions to come.

Robin and Pa­tri­cia Sil­ver are own­ers of The Home store, Salts Mill, Sal­taire, www. the­home­on­line.co.uk.

Harry Ber­toia was born in 1915 in Italy. He moved to Amer­ica at the age of 15 and won a schol­ar­ship to the Cran­brook Academy of Art, where fel­low stu­dents in­cluded Florence

Knoll, Charles Eames and Eero Saari­nen. He was a mul­ti­tal­ented de­sign lu­mi­nary. He died in 1978. har­ry­ber­toia.org

WORK OF ART: The Ber­toia bar stool/chair made from steel rods still looks out­landishly mod­ern.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.