20 FEBRUARY 1953, Page 14


IT is to be hoped that no intelligent foreigner will stray into the exhibition of British furniture that fills the vast spaces at Earls Court. How could one possibly convince him that there are British designers of merit if he knew that an exhibition like this was an annual event ? It really is difficult to see how the standard of design could be much lower. Vulgar and trivial ideas that were demo& in the 1930s are still displayed with pride by manufacturers from Kirkcaldy to Cornwall. The bulging cabinet still opes its ponderous (veneered) jaws to reveal the ornamental radio or the ever-so-nice cocktail glasses ; the galleons still sail on the lampshades ; the cerise quilts still have scalloped edges. A peculiar and fascinating horror can be tasted when such wares are arranged by smart modern display artists.

Among all this the stands of Gordon Russell and Hille look as if they belong to another world. There are two or three exhibitors who have some idea of design among the two hundred ; there is some splendid wood-working machinery (but look at what it turns out !) ; there are some tolerable deck-chairs (it's not easy to go wrong on deck-chairs) ; there are some mangles and some folding steps ; but, apart from these, the whole show has been designed to please a taste both. flashy and vulgar, and, what is more, flashy and vulgar in a way that seems strangely familiar to those who can recall

the cloche hat and the skirt above the knee. S. B.