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Subject: Conference on furniture

Conference on furniture

From: Jake Kaner <jkaner01>
Date: Tuesday, June 1, 2004
The second Twentieth Century Furniture Research Group
Main Lecture Theatre
High Wycombe campus
Tuesday June 22, 2004

Exhibition: Conference attendees will have opportunity to view the
final show of the faculty of design's students' work, which includes
contemporary furniture design, furniture conservation, furniture
design + craftsmanship and furniture production + design, plus other
areas of art and design.

Programme: The programme of lectures and case studies is aimed at
furniture historians, furniture conservators, design historians,
curators, students, researchers and others with an interest in
twentieth century furniture, materials and design.

Research group: The twentieth century furniture research group
(TCFRG) formed in March 2001 and is led by Prof. Jake Kaner. It is
situated within the Faculty of designs research centre for

A central aim of the TCFRG is to promote and preserve furniture
manufactured in the Chilterns throughout the twentieth century. If
you have any information or material that you would like to have
considered for this aim, then please contact us at the High Wycombe

Conference schedule

9:30am      Registration and coffee
10am        Chair's welcome
            Prof. Jake Kaner, BCUC

10:15am     Keynote address
            Dr Clive Edwards
            Loughborough University
            Transfer of furniture making techniques

                The transfer of technology from both allies and
                enemies in a wide range of manufacturing industries
                has been a notable feature of the aftermath of both
                world wars during the twentieth century. This paper
                investigates whether this pattern is as evident in
                the furniture trade as in other, more strategically
                critical products. The two world wars were
                significant factors in the development of the
                British furniture industry, particularly because of
                the transfers of materials and production technology
                that took place after each.  While events of the
                1920s and 1930s indicated the possibilities of
                significant advantages from such developments, much
                the more important era followed World War II.  The
                paper will track these changes in the period
                1920-1955, but with the main emphasis falling on the
                decade after 1945.  The results suggest that the
                manufacturing models from the U.S. were significant,
                but that the possibilities were unevenly adopted
                throughout the industry. Moreover, the government
                played a significant role in facilitating some of
                the most significant transfers. The paper finally
                assesses the impact that transfers to and within the
                furniture industry may have had in the longer term.
                The selected time period of the main case study
                relates to both the post-war adoption of new
                techniques and materials and to a particular moment
                when the British government specifically encouraged
                productivity as a goal.

10:45am     Scott Harper
            Senior lecturer BCUC
            The effects of war on the High Wycombe furniture

                This paper will reveal the anomalies currently
                existing in the understanding of what the furniture
                trade did in wartime Britain. In particular, the
                adaptation of factories and machinery to meet the
                requirements of producing aircraft parts and
                component manufacture.

11:15am     Oliver Heal
            The changing Ambrose Heal

                This paper will examine briefly the changes to the
                work of Ambrose Heal in his later years. An insight
                given by his grandson not previously revealed.

11:30-11:45 Tea

11:45 am    Frank Cartledge
            RCA, The London Institute
            Makers of simple furniture (Gerald Summers)

                It could be argued that Gerald Summers Company
                Makers of Simple Furniture produced some of the most
                'radical' and 'sophisticated' furniture of the
                interwar period on both a national and international
                level. This paper questions the relationship between
                Summers oeuvre and the establishment of a Design
                Historical discourse surrounding modernist furniture
                design. The canonical nature of such a history and
                its production of a select teleology will be
                interrogated through specific examples of Gerald
                Summers' output. If one can determine that this
                production, such as the infamous bentwood chair,
                does indeed display the formal innovation and
                technical merit necessary for inclusion within the
                canon, then questions surrounding its original
                omission (and only its recent inclusion) may
                highlight certain problematics within the formal
                prescriptions of a design historical methodology.
                With this in mind possible answers will be sought
                through looking at the public consumption of Gerald
                Summers furniture during the 1930's and its
                dissemination through editorial and advertising
                within various contemporary publications and
                exhibitions.  Could it be argued that the particular
                spheres of influence in which this work was consumed
                and mediated helped to 'hide it' and consequently
                remove it from the attention of design historians?

12:15       Dr. Reg Winfield
            Senior lecturer BCUC
            Mid century modern/new domestic paradigms

                The end of the First World War saw an uncertain
                peace between France and Germany and a design
                community divided in its responses to the
                devastation of the European economy between
                approaches defined alternatively as moderne or
                modernist. Such division can be seen played out in
                the Paris exposition of 1925 when France could be
                seen to reassert her cultural authority. The end of
                the second world war again saw much of Europe left
                in ruins and the formation of a new political order
                shaped out of a broader east/west divide. More
                significantly, it also saw the USA take centre
                stage, both politically and culturally. This paper
                will foreground a number of key interiors by figures
                such as Charles and Ray Eames (Pacific Palisades) in
                order to explore the newly invigorated domestic
                landscape and the emerging paradigms that can be
                seen to define the furniture that Cara Greenberg has
                described as mid-century modern.

12:45       Panel/Questions

1-2:30     Lunch and Exhibition

2:30        Doon Lovett
            Textile Conservation Center, University of Southampton
            Polyurethane Foam Degradation--A textile conservator's

                The deterioration of polyurethane foam was
                investigated following the discovery of rapid foam
                deterioration in a group of 1960s foam-laminated
                dresses at the Museum of London. Accelerated ageing
                tests were performed on new samples of foam, in a
                variety of environmental conditions, suggesting that
                hydrolysis is an important mechanism for
                deterioration. The rate is slowed at low relative

3 pm            Dr Lyndon Buck
                Principal lecturer BCUC
                Stockings, rubber gloves, fake fur and false
                eyelashes--what plastics did for us 1939-1954

                    A chronology of developments in plastics
                    technology from the development of polyurethane
                    in 1939 through the great developments of WW2
                    including polyester fibres (and soft toilet
                    paper) to the great boom of the 50s including
                    kiss proof lipstick, velcro and superglue. This
                    paper will highlight the plastics that went on
                    to be used extensively in furniture design, with
                    an emphasis on Eames' work on fibreglass, and
                    also the influence that this period had on
                    subsequent polymer technology and furniture

3:30pm      Prof. Greg Votolato
            Head of Department, BCUC
            Planes, trains and automobiles

                Gregory Votolato discusses the 'furniture' and
                interiors designed for some of our most familiar or
                exotic forms of transportation, tracing the endless
                quest for travellers' safety and comfort: the
                inventions, fantasies, icons and mistakes. Starting
                with the ground-breaking studies of American

                Nineteenth Century patented railway furniture
                described in Siegfried Giedion's Mechanization Takes
                Command (1944), this paper will explore the roles
                furniture design has played in the traveller's
                experience during the modern period.

4pm     Panel questions

4:15pm  Close and summary (Chair)

To book, please send completed booking form with a cheques payable
to BCUC and a self addressed envelope to

    Sharon Grover
    TCFRG Conference
    Faculty of Design
    Queen Alexandra Road
    High Wycombe HP11 2JZ

Advance booking is essential

Concessions: Students, senior citizens, and society members (only
with 'furniture, design, conservation or twentieth century' in the
title are acceptable). See booking form overleaf, for rates.

Cancellations must be made at least seven days before the conference
and will be subject to a 25% cancellation fee.

Tickets will be issued at registration upon personal identification
being shown.

BCUC reserves the right to alter the programme at short notice.

Fees include morning coffee, sandwich lunch, afternoon tea, and
access to the final show exhibition and conference admission.

    Full rate UKP75
    Society member* UKP65
    OAP UKP45
    Student UKP25

Contact details

    Jake Kaner/Sharon Grover
    Faculty of Design
    Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College
    Queen Alexandra Road
    High Wycombe
    Bucks HP11 2JZ
    +44 1494 522 141 (BCUC switchboard)
    jkaner01 [at] bcuc__ac__uk
    sgrove01 [at] bcuc__ac__uk

                  Conservation DistList Instance 17:72
                   Distributed: Friday, June 4, 2004
                       Message Id: cdl-17-72-016
Received on Tuesday, 1 June, 2004

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