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Review: Sit Down at the V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green

PUBLISHED: 16:00 14 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:36 05 October 2010

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by Victoria Huntley AFTER buying my first flat in Bethnal Green a year ago, I naturally spent the ensuing weeks searching for practical, beautiful but, above all, afforda

by Victoria Huntley

AFTER buying my first flat in Bethnal Green a year ago, I naturally spent the ensuing weeks searching for practical, beautiful but, above all, affordable furniture.

Refusing to resort to Ikea and succumb to furnishing my flat in exactly the same way as everyone else, I turned to second-hand furniture; specifically to vintage Ercol.

Now, it seems, I'm unable to go anywhere without tripping over a nest of pebble tables or a day bed or sofa by the iconic furniture designer, popular in the 1960s.

A magazine feature reveals that fashion designer Katherine Hamnett collects Ercol furniture, chairs in particular, and new trendy Shoreditch bar The Book Club is crammed to the rafters with the same chairs which surround my dining table (I bet they didn't get them for a fiver each from a charity shop).

Now, it appears, my leading status in the zeitgeist has been cemented after a giant arch of Ercol chairs appeared at Bethnal Green's Museum of Childhood last week.

The arch is part of the museum's Sit Down show, an exhibition of miniature design classics exclusively exploring seating for children.

More than 70 seats designed specifically for kids are featured in the exhibition, including chairs by Charles Eames, Vitra and El Ultimo Grito.

A modernist high chair by Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld and Spotty, a 1960s paper chair designed by Peter Murdoch, are also on display in the exploration of fun functionality.

As the centrepiece of the show, the impressive rainbow arch sweeps majestically across the museum's main hall and scores of neatly stacked wooden chairs flow up and over the heads of exhibition-goers.

I doubt stacking my four chairs in the same way will result in quite the same effect.


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