Here at Scaramanga, while we love our handcrafted satchels and ethically produced leather goods, a large part of our stock is dedicated to vintage and retro furniture, homewares and accessories. From carved art deco cabinets hailing from the 1930s, to mid-century modern elliptical coffee tables and stacking chairs, from brands such as Ercol to Remploy, we’ve got the lot.
While buying vintage furniture is definitely an aesthetic choice, there are other factors involved such as the environmental benefits, and of course the fact that every piece comes with a past of its very own. We love that by adding a 1960s coffee table to the lounge, or a vintage cupboard to the bedroom, a piece of history has been added to the house. It’s also nice to be able to research a little into who made your furniture, where it has come from, and what it may possibly have been originally used for – so we’ve decided to do a short series of profiles on vintage and retro furniture brands, so you know exactly what you’re buying when you make a purchase from us. This time, we’re exploring the wonderful world of Remploy.
Founded in 1945 by Ernest Bevin, the Minister for Labour, Remploy began life with the opening of the first factory in 1946 in Bridgend, South Wales. First into production was a range of furniture and violas, and the company’s original workforce was made up mainly of disabled ex-miners – the original name was actually the Disabled Persons Employment Corporation, and the aim was to give disabled people a chance to support themselves and earn a decent income.
In 1946, the factory network was growing, and the company renamed themselves Remploy, taken from the literal term ‘re-employ’. The Second World War was over by this point, and soldiers were returning home, many badly disabled and scarred from war – Remploy provided them with employment, and the ability to function in the recovering country. Today, they remain as one of the largest employers of disabled people in the UK.
Remploy furniture is starkly utilitarian, full of clean lines and simple design. Using standard techniques, they manufactured no-frills furniture which was built to be used and made to last – from uncomplicated sideboards and room dividers to tubular stacking chairs, Remploy furniture was designed to be simply functional. These days, such functional pieces are highly collectable, and can add a touch of mid-century modern style to any room in the house – use a sideboard in the bedroom as an alternative method of storage, or think outside the box and use a drinks trolley as a side table next to the bed.
Here at Scaramanga, we have a number of different Remploy pieces currently available, which will add a wonderful retro element to your home or garden. The retro school chairs, £65 per pair, are ideal to add to a childs bedroom or playroom – dating from the 1970s, these would have been originally used in a school classroom or dinner hall. For something more adult-sized, why not choose the stacking vintage chairs, £90 per pair, which are made from strong tubular frames and a beech plywood seat and back. Use them in the kitchen, round the dining table, or even outside in the garden to add a vintage touch to your mealtimes. If it’s storage you’re looking for, why not opt for the vintage broom cupboard, £150? This beautiful 1960s broom cupboard consists of three small shelves, and a separate section at the top, and would make a lovely feature in any room – use it to store clothes and bedding in the bedroom, accessories in the bathroom or as a kitchen cupboard.