GORDON RUSSELL - Sir 1892 -1980

oil on canvas portrait of Gordon Russell by Carel Weight

Together with Sir Ambrose Heal, Gordon Russell is

certainly one of the fathers of modern British furniture design.

He was an superb draughtsman and also a passionate

designer and craftsman. Exceptionally, he also embraced

modern industrial practices in manufacturing.

His influence was far reaching as founder member of the Council

of Industrial Design in 1944. This organisation later become the

Design Council and laid the foundation for the modern creative

economy. In 1956 Russell opened the internationally renowned

Design Centre.

His legacy of furniture design progresses from the Arts & Crafts

movement to Modernism, always with a sharp attention to detail

and quality of materials. He understood the need for designer to

work closely with maker. "The designer must have a thorough

knowledge of methods of production, whether by hand or machine".

In this aspect he was forward thinking and had moved on from the

anti-modernist stance of the Arts & Crafts pioneers.

the Russell Workshops trademark of the 'circular saw'.

The country house hotel / inn which his father bought in 1904 was

to provide a rich environment for all three of SB Russell's boys.

The restoration of the Lygon Arms in Broadway is testimony to

the Russell family's character and application.

Gordon, Don and Dick Russell

After WWl the family firm became Russell & Sons initially repairing

antique furniture and then soon to employ trained cabinet makers,

advised by Percy Wells, head of cabinet making at LCC Shoreditch

Technical Institute.

The Russell Workshops opened their London showroom in 1929

in London's West End. RD Russell designed and the Russell Workshops

manufactured radio cabinets for Murphy.

In 1936 it is interesting to note that Nikolaus Pevsner became chief

buyer for Gordon Russell Ltd.

In 1943 Gordon Russell was appointed chairman of the Utility Furniture

Design Panel and his affordable and functional designs can still be found

in homes today.

Gordon Russell Ltd. exhibited at the 1946 'Britain Can Make It' exhibition

and expanded into the retail market. In 1947 Russell was awarded a CBE

and after his involvement with the 1951 'Festival of Britain' exhibition, he

was knighted in 1955.

Royal Warrants were granted in both 1939 and 1961.

The company, continually forward looking, moved successfully

into office contract furnishing in the 1970's and continue to win

international design prizes today.


DESIGN NUMBER 7 dated 1923

'Double Man's Wardrobe in oak with wrought iron fittings'

(archive entry)

This piece of furniture was displayed in the early showroom.

We are delighted to offer this unique historic item for sale.


hand wrought metalwork hinges and doorplates (and original keys) by Alfred Bucknall



135 cms. W

176 cms. H

49 cms. D

Things We See - Furniture by Gordon Russell, 1947, pb. with integral dustjacket, b&w illus. 64pp. £18

Gordon Russell by Ken & Kate Baynes, Design Council series, 1980, pb. 71pp. £18


see also the Gordon Russell Museum

Rennies Seaside Modern

47 The Old High Street


Kent CT20 1RN

e. info@rennart.co.uk

t. (01144) 1303 242427 or (0)7986 834084