Chair, 'Antelope', wood & metal, designed by Ernest Race, made by Ernest Race Ltd, England, 1951
Designed by Ernest Race [1913-1963] and manufactured by Ernest Race Ltd England, 1950.
The 'Antelope' chair was developed for the 'Festival of Britain' in 1951. Intended to boost postwar morale and symbolise optimism in a rebuilt future, the festival exhibits were selected by the Council of Industrial Design using stringent criteria in terms of innovation, function and aesthetic qualities.
Race designed two chairs for the festival, the 'Springbok' and the 'Antelope'. Both were used for public and restaurant seating throughout the festival and buildings, but it was the elegant 'Antelope' that captured public imagination. Available in single or two seater version, it was made of readily available steel rod with a simple rounded plywood seat in yellow, red, blue or grey. The 'Antelope' chair was intended for both indoor and outdoor use and the splayed legs allowed it to stack. The seat holes allowed for rainwater drainage, while the functional ball feet echoed the 'atomic' themes used elsewhere in the festival. Based loosely on traditional Windsor chair forms, the 'Antelope' nevertheless expressed the essence of contemporary style, from its innovative use of materials and slightly splayed steel rod legs. The design continued to be manufactured for general retail for some years.