Design Moment: Antelope Chair, 1951
It has the look of mid-century US lawn chair but Antelope was designed for rainy Britain
Antelope Chair, 1951: Light and elegant with an enduring design
Maybe it’s because we don’t get too many sunny sitting out days a year that the choice of garden seating tends to be poor – though that’s hardly an excuse when you consider Ernest Race’s (1913-1964) Antelope Chair.
It has the look of a mid-century US “lawn chair” – possibly a Florida import, but it was designed for rainy Britain. It – and its sister version, the Springbok Chair – were commissioned in 1951 for the Festival of Britain, that great post-war event designed to be a beacon of optimism. Outdoor seating was required for the area around the Royal Festival Hall on London’s South Bank and Race’s enduring design ticked many boxes.
Light and elegant, the Antelope is made from slender steel rods with a painted gently moulded plywood seat. The ball feet nod to the science theme of the festival where many atomic referenced designs were on show, while the spare skeleton of the chair is modernist in its idea that furniture should enhance the architectural space by not being the viewer’s focus.
In the original chairs the steel is coated with white-coloured enamel while the seat was a cheery yellow. After the festival Race went on to mass-produce his well-received chairs, making them available in many colourways.