Allegro dining suite by Basil Spence

This elegant dining suite, comprising a table, chairs and a sideboard, was designed by Sir Basil Spence and manufactured by H Morris & Company of Glasgow around 1949.

Details

Medium:
Mahogany, Mahogany, Betula, Sycamore, Aluminium, Leatherette
Dimensions:
Table 235 x 115 x 75cm high; Chairs 54 x 50 x 86 cm high; Sideboard 153 x 84 x 47 cm high
Acquired in:
2016



Spence was born to Scottish parents in India and later trained as an architect in Edinburgh. He is famous for the design of Coventry Cathedral and the campus of Sussex University.

In 1946, Spence met Neil Morris, owner of H Morris and Company, when both men were involved in the landmark ‘Britain Can Make It’ exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum. In 1948, Morris approached Spence to design the Allegro dining furniture. The design won a first-class diploma from the Council of Industrial Design and examples of the chairs were donated to both the V&A and MoMA in New York.

Very few complete suites of Allegro appear to have been made, probably due to their high cost. However, the design of the chair, a technical tour-de-force comprising more than 100 mahogany and betula laminations, was particularly admired. The designer Ernest Race, writing in The Architects’ Journal, called it ‘truly contemporary in conception yet having much in common with the finest British work of the late eighteenth century’.

This well preserved example of the suite, by one of Scotland’s most celebrated modern architects, now joins the furniture collection of around 1,800 items at National Museums Scotland.

Provenance

Reportedly from a private house in Scotland since 1949.

Venue details

National Museum of Scotland Chambers Street, EDINBURGH Edinburgh EH1 1JF 0300 123 6789 www.nms.ac.uk

Entry details

50% off with National Art Pass

Daily, 10am – 5pm 26 Dec and 1 Jan, 12 – 5pm Closed 25 Dec