ercol Windsor Chairs


Category: Furniture

Date: 1950s

Designer: Lucian Ercolani

Nationality of Designer: Italian

Manufacturer: ercol

Manufacturers Location: High Wycombe, U.K.

Material: Ash, foam, wool tweed, floral print fabric

Dimensions: 93 x 68.5 x 83 cm

Purchase Price: N/A


A pair of wooden Windsor armchairs 


from a skip 


Both sets of cushions reupholstered: one in tweed, the other in William Morris-style floral patterned fabric (seat) and beige 

Why it's in the Collection:

Windsor chairs are a classic of modern design but their origins date back to at least the 16th century. The construction involves a network of craftsmen with three distinct roles: the bodger, who works the legs; the benchman who works the seat and other sawn parts; and the framer, who would assemble the various parts into the finished product. Ercolani's innovation was automating and integrating this process into a smooth modern system appropriate for mass production. They became ubiquitous and recognisable feature of domestic space for many across Britain. 

About the Designer/Maker:

Italian-born Lucian Ercolani (1888–1976) moved to the East End of London in 1898 where he was schooled by the Salvation Army. In 1906 he enrolled on a furniture design course at Shoreditch Technical College. There he was taught skills according to Arts and Crafts principles and completed an elegant Georgian-style music cabinet in mahogany with an Aesthetic satinwood and mother of pearl inlay. He later worked with Frederick Parker's firm (eventually Parker-Knoll) for a brief period before starting his own business and factory in High Wycombe. He managed ercol before handing it on to his sons and remained chairman until his death in 1976. 

About the Manufacturer:

ercol was established by Lucian Ercolani in 1920 in High Wycombe. Twelve years later ercol took over the premium furniture maker Walter Skulls Limited also based in the town. High Wycombe had been a centre of chair manufacturing since at least 1700 due to the good beech forests nearby. From start Ercolani pushed for experiment and innovation with his materials, particularly the use of steam bending. During the Second World War, having grown rapidly, the large ercol factory was requisitioned for war industry. In 1944, as the British government made plans for reconstruction and industrial recovery, ercol won a contract for the production of 100,000 chairs using minimal materials with maximum strength and build-quality. The Windsor dinner chair was selected, and special machines prepared for the manufacture, welcoming an age of mass production and affordable style. After the war, Lucian B and Barry Ercolani continue their father's leadership and introduce several design classics - the Butterfly Chair, Loveseat, and Studio Couch (all loosely based on the Windsor chair), as well as the stacking chair.