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School-inspired interior schemes are trending, and iconic classroom designs are being given sophisticated makeovers. The classic British school chair is a style staple, and Scott & Taylor London are reimagining the timeless design to suit modern requirements.
We're delighted to carry a selection of these striking vintage style chairs in the Warehouse Home shop and we wanted to introduce our readers to the team behind the designs. Join us as we find out how Scott & Taylor began and learn more about the exciting developments they're working on.
Who are Scott & Taylor London?
Scott & Taylor is made up of myself, Olivia Scott-Taylor, and my mother Lesley Scott. The business started just over 4 years ago after we were selected at the Liberty London ‘Best of British Design’ Open Call 2014 with our interpretation of the classic, midcentury style British school chair. The incorporation of our hand-painted stripes is what really seemed to catch the Liberty buyer’s eye and we were commissioned to create an exclusive range of six designs.
Lesley’s background is in interior design, styling, and upcycling one-off pieces for the home. The idea for the chair came about after Lesley refurbished some reclaimed original school chairs for her own kitchen and started playing with painting and lacquering techniques. People loved them and an instant demand was established, however sourcing more and more original chairs proved problematic. We encountered problems such as twisted frames, dry and splintered wood and mismatched backs and seats. More impractically, they were generally too low and small to be a modern dining chair.
I came up with the idea of designing our own chair to give people could have the best of both worlds. The chairs retain the classic retro look we love, but have been redesigned to suit modern life. We split our time between London and Somerset, where the chairs are painted, finished and assembled by hand.
Are you able to share a little about the history of this particular style of chair?
We have always been fans of the original 1930’s – 1960’s tube steel and laminated ply school chair, which was widely used in schools and institutions across the country before plastic alternatives hit the market (including Robin Day’s popular polypropylene stacking chairs) in the 60’s. Aesthetically, we love the industrial nature of the chairs with visible weld marks and large metal rivets or bolts set against curved laminated ply backs and seats. We wanted to recreate this design classic as we felt there wasn’t a chair quite like ours on the market and our new, over-engineered design would have none of the drawbacks of the originals, meaning they were the perfect canvas for our unique stripes. It was incredibly important to us to make a product we were proud of and we knew they needed to be manufactured in the traditional manner here in the UK to stay true to the heritage of the design. The chairs are rooted in history but very much built for the future and only look better with age.
“Our chairs are painstakingly engineered and constructed using traditional manufacturing methods and the same materials the originals were made of.”
Could you tell us about the materials and manufacturing techniques you use?
We are meticulous in every detail and we believe this is what sets our furniture apart from the rest. Our chairs are painstakingly engineered and constructed using traditional manufacturing methods and the same materials the originals were made of. This was always our mission and we scoured the country to make sure we found the right companies for the job, as we were never willing to compromise on the quality. A specialist factory creates our ergonomically designed 12mm laminated backs and seats made up of 8 layers of 1.5mm beech ply. The 22mm tube steel frames are manufactured by a 50 year-old family-run tube manipulation company and are much thicker than nearly all modern reproductions - you can really see and feel the difference for yourself. Each chair’s signature stripes are hand painted before final lacquering and the finished backs and seats are then secured to their frames by heavy-duty rivets. Our chairs are 100% British-made using wood which is sustainably sourced and FSC certified.
Could you explain the process of re-designing such an iconic piece?
We took our favourite elements from all the different original chairs we had collected and spent a very long time making sure we had, what we felt, was the perfect angle of the back, curve of the seat and basically the most comfortable school chair possible. People are always surprised by how comfortable they are! We feel the addition of our hand painted stripes gives the chairs a distinctly contemporary update and contrasts beautifully with the retro nature of the chair itself. We also offer different powder coated frame colours and 2 different wood finishes, meaning the chairs can be adapted to suit any space and colour scheme, contemporary or otherwise.
Please tell us about some of your recent projects.
We love the fact that we are always working on such diverse projects. The chairs complement such a broad range of interiors, and we're always fascinated by where they are heading off to. A set of 8 chairs was recently dispatched to a beautiful family home in Twickenham in London. We have also just completed chairs for an architecture practice and an exciting communal office space. We are also thrilled about the upcoming launch of our new industrial bar stool. Based on a mid-century laboratory stool, and modelled very much along the same lines as the chairs, we have approved the prototype and are looking forward to sharing the final result.
We would like to thank Olivia for taking the time to talk to Warehouse Home. For more information on Scott & Taylor, visit their website. To shop Scott & Taylor chairs, visit the Warehouse Home store.
The signature stripes on each vintage style chair are hand painted. The chairs come in a range of finishes and colours to suit any scheme.