"Modern Furniture Creates Space and Light"

Any article on modern domestic design that starts, "With the exception of Michael Frayn and his wife, architects, and people who have married Americans, my husband and I are the only London couple we know who have modern furniture," is sure to get my attention and my admiration.  As the opening salvo in the Observer's Katherine Whitehorn's 1961 article on the paucity of modern furniture in British homes, the sentence advances playwrights, architects and American in-laws as the courageous torch bearers for modern furniture within tradition-bound London decorating circles.   Whitehorn goes on to write, "As our friends wear modern clothes, switch on electric lights, drive cars and give other evidence of living in the 20th century, I find this both odd and sad; I think the reasons for it are interesting, and not quite what they appear to be."  The essay is interesting in that it questions both the sanctity of the patron saints of the well-appointed British home - Wedgewood porcelain, and Georgian antiques to name just two - as a means of questioning just why Britons, in 1961, had such little faith in the abilities of modern British designers:  "Since when did English have so little confidence in their own taste that they could not take a risk on anything new? And where on earth is the sense in buying furniture, not because you want to live with it now, but because you can sell it well in 30 years' time? Talk about marrying for the alimony."  Since when, indeed?

 

 

 "Modern furniture creates space and light"

 "Modern furniture creates space and light"