The lovely Vanson sideboard that wasn’t designed by Peter Hayward !

The lovely Vanson sideboard that wasn’t designed by Peter Hayward !

Peter Hayward designed some lovely pieces for Vanson in the 1950s and into the 1960s , but this is one model that was not one of his . As he designed so much for Vanson his name has naturally been assigned to this very stylish and unusual sideboard . With its curved ends it’s unlike any other British or Scandinavian sideboard that we can think of , so it has a very individual look to it .

We like everybody else always assumed that he’d designed it , but we uncovered it’s true genesis when doing some research recently at the British Library . We found it shown in a 1963 trade publication with an attached article with the actual history of the design .

It was designed by a young man called Robert MacArthur who had joined Vanson straight from Shoreditch Technical College in 1962 after completing a 3 year course in furniture design and technology . It was launched at the Manchester furniture exhibition in August 1963 along with a table and 4 chairs priced at £137 15 shillings . This meant it was priced at a very similar level to G Plan’s Danish Design , so around 20%-25% more than standard mid market models by G Plan , McIntosh and others at the time .

Vanson was the brand name for the fairly small quality progressive company W.G.Evans . Like a number of up-market makers Vanson seemed to have disappeared at some point in the late 1960s when the British economy stumbled and tax changes hit the wealthier middle classes .

Apart from the curved ends , other luxury features include a nicely finished veneered back , rosewood veneers to the doors and a sycamore lined interior . Today such detailing would have added far more than around 25% to the price , but then there was a large pool of very accomplished highly trained British cabinet makers with the necessary skills .

Vanson like a lot of smaller up-market companies didn’t seem to produce much in the way of leaflets or catalogues , and we have yet to see one despite building up a very good collection in the last few years . Any information on Vanson or Robert MacArthur would be welcome .

Vanson were still using Peter Hayward at this time as he is known to have designed pieces for them in 1968 . Vanson also used Nigel Walters who produced a lot of quirky individual designs for Heals in the late 1950s as well as a number of important kitchen designs for Wrighton in the 1960s .

Peter Hayward was apparently not easy to work with , and by around 1966 he had opened a small shop in Bath ( ?) selling well designed furniture and decorative items . He is reported in 1967 to be finding the market extremely tough and we don’t as yet know how long the business survived .