Achive Articles: Design, July 1974

July 1974

Bath Chairs
Coexistence, which opened this month in Bath, is the most exciting thing for designers that has happened for years. At long last we have a splendid showroom where the work of leading British furniture designers will be shown with the best from abroad. Cleverly and simply adapted from a Georgian warehouse (the architect was Charles Thomson) it has three large floors, big enough to show a wide range of goods ranging from garden lighting and furniture through all kinds of interesting new household furniture to ceramics and paintings. The prices range from Habitat to Heals.

The interior design is sympathetic both to the original building and its new use. The original sandstone floors have been cleaned and left, the walls taken back to their original surfaces; rough plaster, brick and stone. Only the entertaining/office/ reception room at the rear has any new treatment; diagonal tongued and grooved softwood lightly washed in pale grey and varnished. All the other walls have been painted white with black recesses, some with the original cast iron grates and kitchen ranges. The sanitary fittings (including a shower available to customers) are dazzling bright red plastics. The new staircase in black iron with simple, nautical metal rails fills a new well connecting the three floors. The shop front in black painted timber and glass with a solid door is simple and distinguished.

Coexistence is a brave venture which will need every support if it is to be a success. By selling pieces carefully selected from the best in this country it is hoped to make converts of the cowardly firms which prefer to take the easy way out and either copy or import foreign designs. Coexistence also provides a special service for contract work, delivering virtually anything anywhere.

British manufacturers who have items on show are HK (a marvellous stripey sofa), Everest, Design Workshop, Qudrant 4 (a very good glass and acrylic dining table) and Hitch/Mylius who have some simple, soft chairs and a sofa covered in Donald Brothers tweed at a remarkably low price. Designers include John Makepeace, who has a great long dining table of impeccable design and finish, Ann Sutton, Robin and Ellen Ashley, Peter Collingwood, Glenys Barton and Elizabeth Fritsh, Elizabeth Bradford, Charles Dillon and Betty Barnden with her intriguing knitted chairs. From abroad there are some new lights by Sirrah, tiny caterpillar lamps from Metalarte, cane seats from Karl Christiansen, the amazing Teuco sanitary fittings, and the Artemide, Cassina, Form International, Orlando, B & B, and Danasco ranges.

Behind Coexistence are Mary Wiggin, who gained her experience at Heal’s, The Design Centre and as a buyer for General Trading and Ross Bull the economist. Neither are designers, but they share an excellent eye for form and a tremendous enthusiasm for spreading its enjoyment.

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