1913 – 1964
Ernest Race was born in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and attended the London’s Bartlett School of Architecture. His career began when he opened a shop in the salubrious area in London’s Knightsbridge which focused on textiles and carpets when an advert posted by J W Jordan caught his eye. An engineer by trade, Jordan had a belief that his manufacturing techniques could cross over and be used in the production of furniture. He required someone with design experience to join him in this endeavour. Ernest answered the call and they decided to name the new company Ernest Race Ltd with the view that Ernest would be able to tap into his many contacts in the design field.
The partnership coincided with the government pushing for more affordable furniture following the end of WWII. There were, however, conditions with this request as materials were limited or unavailable due to the need to build houses. They took to the challenge and one of the first major successes was the BA3 chair in 1945, using an aluminium frame, sleek and stylish and affordable – this was a real hit and became one of the first mass produced chairs after WWII. The was exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s exhibition ‘Britain Can Make It’ in 1946. The exhibition was deemed a huge success and was visited by over 1.5 million people. The BA3 chair has since made a return to the museum in recent years for a whole new generation to enjoy.
In 1968,Ernest Race designed the interior of the Queen Elizabeth II ocean liner , with Robert Heritage.
Race was a prolific designer in his relatively short career and is probably best known for his collection of chairs, many with an animal theme – from the Antelope, Flamingo and Heron! During his career Race was the worth winner of many accolades and awards, his collections are still on display in the V&A and the MoMA in New York – a true testament to the brilliant designer he was.