Ercol has a fascinating history that intertwines with other well known brands at the beginning of their interesting journeys. The year is 1888, on the 8th May Lucian Ercolani was born in the small town of Sant’Angelo in Italy. At 10 years of age Lucian, with his parents moves to the East End of London and he starts learning English. As 1906 looms, Lucian attends Shoreditch Technical Institute studying drawing and design. Later he was invited by Harry Parker - to be known as Parker Knoll Furniture, to join them in High Wycombe. In 1913 while teaching night classes Lucian met a Mr Ted Gomme, they became friends, the Gommes started G Plan in the 1950s.
Having spent time with these two future furniture moguls, in 1920 Lucian opened his own furniture business. Since then Ercol has stood for great design, of the highest quality wooden furniture available. Super clean lines, with striking curves of solid wooden rails have become iconic and synonymous with Ercol products. Along with there unique ability to bring out all the wonderful natural characteristics of wood. Now residing in a purpose build 160,000 square foot factory, Ercol produces a wide range of cabinet and upholstered furniture.
Lucian Ercolani received Design Guild Mark for a number of his stunning pieces, these are still available today from the Originals collection, the design awards were achieved for the, Butterfly Chair, Stacking Chair, Love Seat, 354 Nest and Plank tables. In more recent times Ercol continues its Italian heritage, with the design team scooping awards for Romana sideboard, Svelto stacking stool and the Holland Park chair. You can see the Romana sideboard in the image on this page and view the full range either online or by visiting the Clarkes showroom in Sandling Road Maidstone.
These days Ercol have extended their beautiful collection of furniture to cover bedrooms, meaning you can quite literally fill every room in your home with glorious high quality, hand finished furniture, from upholstery with contemporary retro inspired designs, that are available in a wide range of colours, or dining room table and chair sets with matching furniture that compliment and combine seamlessly with the upholstery. Naturally the bedroom furniture follows these style lines, offering beautiful, solid and robust collections that you will provide you years of pleasure.
Clarkes Furnishers was born 1929 just a few years after Ercol started and as such over the years we have formed a very special trading relationship. The team at Clarkes are well versed in the Ercol collection, and schedule many team visits to the factory in Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, for training. Displaying a wide range of upholstery, cabinet and bedroom furniture, Clarkes can certainly advise and demonstrate this wonderful collection using our accumulated knowledge. Even if what you are looking for is not on display, we will be able to offer pricing and full information on the whole catalogue collection.
Each piece of wood has a unique grain, a bit like our finger prints. Ercol have released this inner beauty by skilfully working with the most suitable woods. For example, Beech trees grow at a relatively slow rate, this growth rate produces a short tight grain, this presents as being ideal for steaming, a process that will allow craftsmen to bend and shape the wood into curved sections. These will form slender stunning lines, that look clean, simple and very stylish.
Ash and Elm are integrated in the Ercol designs, not only for their strength, but also for the absolutely fabulous deep rich grain, which is teased out, via extensive sanding and finishing procedures, creating a real wow factor.
Timber selection, is obviously a key element and in 1975 Ercol bought Latimer Sawmills in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. At the State-of-the-art factory the cutting machinery, enables high precision, computer controlled detailing, for the finest quality joining, which adds strength and stability as well as, a silky smooth, quality finish.
Classic design, quality in a form that is both practical and beautiful are at the heart of everything that Ercol produce. Like all iconic designs, they transcend their own time, becoming aspirational, highly desirable items. Ercol have not only made this possible, with a number of award winning products, but also very affordable. Of course all these products have been created with a purpose in mind, one that will be functional in the home, meaning you can enjoy the looks while using them on a daily bases.
As you have now read, Ercol started in 1920, by 1950, 33 employees had chalked up over 21years service, this lead to awards and a maxim, inscribed in wood of course, “Without loyalty no human enterprise can succeed”, an ethos that continues today, with team members often gaining 40 year plus awards. The craftspeople at Ercol have skills often passed down from generation to generation, all of which means, pride comes as standard. Pictured here, you see the Evergreen upholstered chair, this stunning chair is made from solid beech, available in a wide range of soft fabric colours and a selection of six lacquer colours, dimensions W 77cm x D 89cm x H 108cm with a Seat Height of 48cm, this high back chair is stylish and very comfortable, no wonder that it has stood the test of time. Ercol have a neat fabric/wood selection configurator for this chair, which show you how it would look in any of the fabrics/wood options, you can also order samples, to see this working click here.
War time impacted the UK manufacturing industries in many ways, men drafted and women making things to support the world efforts. It was a time when everyone pulled together. At this time Ercol worked for the government, producing 25,000 tent pegs a day, along with munition boxes and other supplies.
Lucian Ercolani's very own son, of the same name, took part in the RAF as Flight Lieutenant and was lucky to have survived a crash landing in the Thames Esturary in 1941, it took three days adrift in a small dingy before washing up on the Isle of Wright.
Thankfully for the world of furniture, Ercol thrived and despite a serious shortage of raw materials, in the 40’s with all the required rebuilding, it meant that demand was substantial. This would see Ercol invest in new machinery to increase capacity, but at the same time control, quality and price.
Buckingham Palace, June 1964, Lucian was awarded an OBE for services to UK design and manufacturing, after an enriched life dedicated to furniture, Lucian sadly passed away in 1976. To the present day Ercol is still a family run business that retains all the values that have been important throughout its history.
Embracing modern day methods and designs is how Ercol continues to evolve and stay relevant in todays market. However the core root of success is still the people, creating and producing beautifully finished furniture; still a labour intensive process. Working with timbers to achieve such high quality results, day in day out, demonstrates years of dedication and commitment to this fine craft. Having a team that is overtly brimming with pride over everything that they produce, is a great testament to the business as a whole.
These days finding products you can rely on, to deliver everything they promise, is very rare, which is all the more reason why Clarkes of Maidstone continues to enjoy such a good relationship with Ercol.