Prototype School chairs, Oliver Cox, UK, c.1950
A relatively unknown British designer, Oliver Jasper Cox, “capable of designing anything from a door handle to a town”. His life as a designer overlapped briefly with David Medd on the Carpenders Park School project, heading the furniture and colour programme around c. 1946 – 1950 (with Herts County Council).
Cox was interested in all aspects of educational life, chairs, desks, playgrounds, colours, stairs – not wanting to reproduce these from traditional forms, instead devising new well-researched versions.
This pair of chairs, signed in pencil “Cox 1/4” and “Cox 3/4” suggest they are two of four working prototypes that he designed for a school project. They are adult sized, for a secondary school, and show variation in ergonomics of the seat. One seat has a shaved, more pebble-like smoothness with grain going side to side. The other, unshaven, has a larger back piece, grain front to back. The direction of the grain is noted with arrows (in pencil) on the underside of the chairs. The tubular steel frame, designed as modular elements show his awareness of post-war manufacturing at the same time as retaining the humanism that he was known for.
Acquired from the daughter of Oliver Cox, in 2015 – the chairs were once painted red, perhaps a colour intended to match the colour scheme of Carpenders Park School. Rubber foot missing on one.
Out of stock