My search for a Panton replica

Some of you might not be aware of this, but the name of this blog is about to become a bit more relevant. After around 8 years of living in rented accommodation, I’m finally able to afford to buy my own home. I’ll cover that more closer to completion, but the short of it is that I bought a Saarinen style tulip table (inspired by his Pedestal collection) and now I need some chairs to go with it.

The table I bought was secondhand (pictured left), originally from IKEA – a budget alternative to a more bespoke designer replica or vintage original. I paid £5 (under 6 euros/dollars) and it’s scuffed pretty bad, but the normal sale price is still good value at £129.

An upside of buying something that is mass-produced and distributed globally at such a scale is that there’s no shortage of inspiration for how to decorate it – on Pinterest, Instagram, or other sites. One recurring theme was paying homage to the original collection and having a unibody chair without multiple legs. Whilst there is a specific ‘Tulip Chair’ that would match this, it’s expensive to buy and with the bright colours available it does still feel a bit boxy for the small space that I’ll be moving into (though the stool version looks okay, and I did find a good deal here).

Spotlight: The Pedestal Collection
Eero Saarinen was a Finnish-American architect and designer. Declaring that the undercarriage of furniture made an ‘ugly, confusing, unrestful world’ he announced his intention to ‘clear up the slum of legs’ and make chairs and table one united object. Produced in the mid-20th century under Knoll Design, the collection was a commercial success and saw numerous design awards. Summarising the design inspiration succinctly, Eero said: “We have chairs with four legs, with three and even with two, but no one has made one with just one leg, so that’s what we’ll do.”

A building designed by Saarinen under construction – the curves and weightlessness are reflected in his furniture designs also.

I decided to consider another famous chair, this time by designer Verner Panton. A Danish designer who was much more focused on interiors, he created futuristic designs in bold palettes and materials. This chair was light, unique looking, stackable and the design was hard-wearing.

Choosing the Panton chair also opened up the possibility of finding something in yellow (pictured), which is such a brightening colour that works well with my style given that most of my furniture is either muted (whites and greys) or in a mint green style that is quite complementary.

Verner Panton chair in yellow. Image via Flickr, shared under an attribution license.

Two weeks later and I’m still searching for the perfect Panton chair. Essentially I ran into some difficulties. Firstly, the price seems to vary quite widely, with no indication given of quality. Second, there are a few second hand replicas available online but it’s hard to organise collection when you a) don’t have a car, and b) are talking with a real person over a business.

So my first thought was to buy from a real company that can deliver a brand-new replica: I searched on Google for Panton chairs and found quite a few results for under £100 each. I had my eyes set on a site that offered one with free delivery for under £40 with 70% off the normal price – and they had my colour! Unfortunately it looked like something was off when I found a similar but different site that had the same chair for the same price and discount. I looked at the terms and conditions of each website and found that they were identical. After searching the two company’s names together online I found a litany of bad reviews alleging a scam. I can’t speak for my own experience because I have decided not to order from them, but I am going to avoid Myfaktory and Privatefloor in the future. If this Mumsnet thread isn’t bad enough, there are some very unfortunate stories on TrustPilot too. So the cheapest options to buy new online are gone, and I’m slightly less trustful of the other sites that are offering these chairs cheap. Although Pash Classics, which does have the Panton chair in yellow at the slightly pricier £59, does seem reliable.

I also found two second hand white Panton chairs through Facebook Marketplace for £20 each, if I could collect them from South London – which isn’t too much of a journey for me. Unfortunately, after initially sharing information, the seller hasn’t been particularly responsive recently so I’m not sure if this is going ahead or not.

Whilst all of this was happening, my mum reminded me that I do actually own a dining chair already that she has been storing at her house – a Nordmyra IKEA chair that is actually quite stylish (pictured right). I have the unpainted wood version on the bottom which is now unfortunately out of production and I’m not sure whether to use other variants from the same set, buy a whole new set, or mix and match. So now I’m back at square one.

The building won’t be finished until at least November anyway, so I have time. More updates to follow.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying.

It’s not often a home tour is started with a poem, but it’s fitting for this one. Part of a modernist- development built in the 1950s, the different blocks were named after poets. The one below is named after the 17th century English poet, Robert Herrick. 

This is a really beautiful tour to break a long hiatus for. It’s lovingly decorated and restored – details like the ribbed glass internal doors were kept true to the original form. 

One thing to note in the floor plan is the store room before the entrance of the property. This would almost certainly have been used to store coal, and highlights the history of this place.

The South London home of steel

Visit Dulwich, and you’ll find brick homes. Dulwich village, which I visited recently for the Edward Bawden exhibition, even has a semi-rural feel to it. In short, when you’re walking about in this area you don’t expect to see a modern house made of steel, concrete, and a luminous thermoplastic.  And you don’t. The house is obscured from the street – nested in a central courtyard and former brickyard behind other houses. From the street you only see an unassuming metal gate.

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‘Nordic Retreat’ – first look at John Lewis’ Scandi-inspired AW18 range

Scandinavian style isn’t hard to find within the UK – every major furniture store has its own inspired range (and there’s always IKEA). There was something about this one which caught my eye. The palette is quite warm, but also neutral – and then you have some pops of gold. Adding to that are some interesting textures (such as smoked glass and ceramics). Note that the rose gold mirror isn’t a part of the ‘Nordic Retreat’ range, but can be found here instead.

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Grayson Dressing Table, £350, Mosserud Stripe Rug, £475, Artek 60 Stool, £180.40, Design Project by John Lewis No. 045 Floor Lamp, £115, Pols Potten Chic Vases, set of 4, £225
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Ercol for John Lewis Shalstone Dining Table, £899, ercol for John Lewis Shalstone Dining Chair, £229, Vitra Eames DSW Side Chair, £292, Secto Victo Ceiling Light, £585
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Albie Armchair, £499, Mantis Bookcase, £450, Hiko Floor Lamp, £140, Ziggy Table Lamp, £75, Ayla Rug, £380
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Melena Round Side Table, Large, £150, Small, £119, Design Project by John Lewis No. 068 Vase, £20
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Tokyo Large Corner Group Sofa, £3,399, Melena Side Table, Large, £150, Small, £119, west elm Watercolour Trellis Rug, £499, Hiko Floor Lamp, £140, Design Project by John Lewis No. 045 Floor Lamp, £115, Taj Throw, £49, Cushions, from £10, Baskets, from £20

Spotlight: steal this look

January last year I posted a Gothenburg apartment tour with an absolutely beautiful lighting set-up. The cherry on top was an ethereal yet bold overhead light (available in multiple colours) which currently retails at €752. One striking addition to the Nordic Retreat is the ‘Hiko’ lighting collection, with a very similar overhead light retailing at £175.

Kent’s Mid-century treasure

Whilst Gerald Beech is best known for the Liverpool house Cedarwood – a prototype for future estates that drew tens of thousands of visitors but never saw mass-production – the architect also built another gem on the other end of the country. Broadstairs, in Kent, is a mid-century time capsule.

Broadstairs, built in the early 60s, was created for a family downsizing from a large and ‘stiff’ 18th century manor. The brief was to create “a more manageable home which still retained a sense of space”. In ‘The Architect & Building News’ journal, a critic wrote of the high central ceiling:

“the extension of part of the living room through two floors has created a strong element of vertical space which is apparent from all parts of the house and, with the stairway and bridge link pass through it, the accommodation on the first floor becomes an entity with the ground floor”

Later the same critic wrote of the way structural elements had been used to frame the divide between different areas:

“Exposed joists and beams have been used, and by giving careful consideration to their positions and direction of run, this structure is dominant in the spatial idea… The provision of such a modular discipline in the structure at an early stage during the building operation did much to encourage exact craftsmanship by the building operatives”

The front exterior is relatively modest and opts more for privacy than anything else. We start with the kitchen and dining area below.

Moving into the central living area we can see the space really does open up.

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Moving upstairs, we note a transition from the main living room to the bedrooms, and here a change of character. The house goes from being quite open downstairs and along the walkway, to more sheltered and snug.

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The gallery wall links the open living area – stretching the theme upstairs.

Image source is The Modern House, Streetview can be found here. I’ve created a map below for reference.

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Manygate lane: the secret mid-century estate in South London

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In a quiet commuter suburb of London, you can find a group of houses that more closely resembles midcentury Denmark or Sweden, than postwar England. The estate, built in 1964/5, was one of very few experiments of modernist housing by the private sector in Britain.

Designed by Swiss architect Edward Schoolheifer (employed by the Lyon Group), the houses are each internally arranged around a central ‘hub’ that includes the main living areas and very high and open glass windows. This follows the mid-century modern concept of blurring the division between inside and outside as it creates a very strong visual link to the garden.

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When the houses were completed they cost approximately double the average price for a three-bed house in London (£3,500). The proximity to Shepperton studios meant that it’s had a few star-studded residents, including Tom Jones (pictured outside his house), the singer Dickie Valentine (whose unfortunate car crash inspired a novel by the local JG Ballard), and rentals from Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger and Julie Christie. Scroll down or click through for two photo sets from houses recently sold in the area.

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