What is the greatest gift a company can give itself for its hundredth anniversary? To give itself another company, hoping that it will live for another century. Accordingly, this year, Ercol, founded in 1920, has created L. Ercolani, a brand of which even the name is a well-deserved homage to its founder, and which encompasses the company’s heritage and turns it into an asset for the future.
Ercol was created by a young Italian, Lucian R. Ercolani, born in 1888, who moved with his family to London from the Italian Marches at the age of 10. There, encouraged by his father, a professional framer, he studied drawing, design, and the theory and furniture construction at the Shoreditch Technical Institute. He made his first piece, a music cabinet inlaid with mother of pearl in 1907, which was eventually tracked down and is now “held” by the company. Between 1910 and 1920, Lucian R. Ercolani worked for what was to become the Parker Knoll Company as well as for Gommes, later G-Plan. He set up his own company, which was instantly marked out by the quality of its products, at the age of 32.
In 1944 he was asked by the Board of Trade Utility Furniture commission to make a hundred thousand Windsor chairs (a model characterised by legs and backrest that slot into a wooden seat, Ed.). The commission was set up by the British government in 1942 to regulate the production of utility furniture, optimising the use of high quality materials for civilian rather than for war use, allowing the company its first opportunity to experiment with mass production. Initially inspired by British classic style, Ercolani discovered a whole new world – encapsulated by the simple, essential Shaker furniture - on a trip to America. It was love at first sight! This rigour was to set the tone for his products over the years.