Welcome to the 1950s!
The Homes & Antiques 50s living room at the Royal Festival Hall is now open! Using a mix of original pieces and reissued designs, it captures the spirit of how a cutting-edge Fifities living room might have looked, as well as reflecting the ongoing vogue for these designs today.
The project started back in February. Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway had been asked to create the ‘Museum of ’51’ as part of the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain at the Southbank Centre in London. Remembering the mini 1950s living room that we’d created for Vintage at Goodwood last summer, they asked us whether we’d like to be involved.
Having taken – ooh – an entire millisecond to answer yes, we set to work. Kiera Buckley-Jones, our stylist, compiled mood boards with the overall feel we wanted to capture - the optimism of a post-war Britain looking towards a bright and modern future.
Thanks to advances in manufacturing, the 1950s was the first time good design was available to everybody, not just the wealthy few. Affordable and fun, it transformed the way we live, paving the way for people to see interiors as fashion rather than something they had for life. When you think about the overstuffed three-piece suites and the brown furniture that had gone before, it’s easy to imagine just how different and modern this new look would have felt.
So many of the designers we now associate with great mid-century design made their names at the Festival, so we knew there were certain pieces we had to include. Lucienne Day’s iconic ‘Calyx’ fabric was a must, as was an Ercol sofa, both shown at the original festival. Then there was Marian Mahler’s 'Mobiles' fabric, a G plan dining set, some bits of ‘atomic’ furniture and a classic 50s room divider, not to mention all those other little pieces – lamps, plants, pictures and ceramics - that make a house a home.
Scouring eBay, junk shops and contacting friendly dealers all over the country, Kiera has put together an inspirational 50s room, showcasing the bright colours, abstract patterns and atomic and crystal-inspired motifs so popular at the time.
Visit the Homes & Antiques
living room at the Museum of 51, at the Royal Festival Hall on London’s Southbank until 4th September 2011.
Did you visit the original festival? If so, we want to hear from you! Email your memories to deputy editor Natasha Goodfellow
2 ‘Pride’ cutlery, from £21 per item, David Mellor (01433 650220; davidmellordesign.com
). Midwinter ‘Domino’ plates, £22; cruet set, £22; George Hann place mats, £28, all Neo Belle Bizaar (07760 392518). Glasses, from a selection at Bar Era (barera.co.uk
3 ‘Majestic’ carpet in ‘Cirio’, £79.15 per sq m, Brintons (0800 505055; brintons.net
4 Sewing box, £42, Neo Belle Bizaar. Covered in ‘Festival’ fabric, £32 per m, Sanderson (0844 543 9500; sanderson-uk.com
5 RIBA image of the Lansbury Estate, reproduced by Surface View (07963 142435). Curtains made from ‘Hayward’ fabric, £35 per m, Sanderson. Plant pots, £18, Neo Belle Bizaar
6 Portable record player, £95, Elephant & Monkey. Records, from a selection at Etcetera (07977 161915; etcetera-online.co.uk
). George Hann print, £45; ashtray, £18; plant pot, £38, all Neo Belle Bizaar. Table lamp, £75, Cream and Chrome (07963 142435; creamandchrome.co.uk
7 Peter Hayward walnut starburst sideboard, £1,355, Orange and Brown (07968 218029; orangeandbrown.co.uk
8 ‘Mid-Century Colours’ skylon grey paint, £29.50 per 2.5 l, Fired Earth (0845 293 8798; firedearth.com
9 Child’s chair, £35, Elephant & Monkey
10 1948 armchair by Ernest Race, £290, Race Furniture (01451 821446; racefurniture.com
). Covered in ‘Mobiles’ fabric, £35 per m, Sanderson
11 ‘Tomado’ shelves, £210, Designs of Modernity (07966 285694; designsofmodernity.com
). Shot glasses, from a selection at Bar Era. Midwinter ‘Homeweave’ tea set, £75; ‘Riviera’ tureen, £65; ‘Riviera’ coffee pot, £89; ‘Cannes’ three-section plate, £59, all Deco-Etcetera (deco-etcetera.com
). Denby coffee pot, £22, H is For Home (01706 819941; hisforhome.com
12 Magazine rack, £42; yellow table, £38; cushion, £38, all Neo Belle Bizaar. Lamp, £170, Cream and Chrome
13 Vintage chair in ‘Laszlo’ fabric, £65 per m, Sanderson
14 G Plan ‘Librenza’ room divider, £395, Elephant & Monkey
15 Vase, £22; cat, £28, both Neo Belle Bizaar. Black jug, £24; tear vase, £28; black vase, £24; cross-hatched vase, £24, all Neo Belle Bizaar
16 Books, £2 each, Focus on the Past (0117 973 8080)
17 Muffin the Mule puppet, £22; glass tray, £45, both Neo Belle Bizaar
18 All artificial plants, from a selection at Bloom (0844 482 2332; bloom.uk.com); shelf covered in 'Chrome Yellow' formica, from £21.50 per square metre, Formica. 0191 259 3512; formica.co.uk
19 Nest of tables, £495, Ercol (01844 271800; ercol.com
20 1950s floor lamp, £580, Circa 20th Century Antiques and Design (07779 759319; c20c.com
21 Sunburst clock, £48, Neo Belle Bizaar
22 ‘Studio’ couch, £1,925, Ercol. Fabric on cushions, from a selection at Sanderson
23 Jaqueline Groag coffee table, £150, find similar at vintage markets
24 ‘Mobiles’ wallpaper, £36 per roll, Sanderson
25 Series 302 phone, £49.95, Bloomsbury Store (0845 270 2677; bloomsburystore.com
). Out of shot: Stool, £125, Neo Belle Bizaar. Covered in ‘Calyx’ fabric, £75 per m, Classic Textiles (0141 353 4734; classictextiles.com
Set design and styling: Kiera Buckley-Jones Photographs: Sean Myers