Back to where it all began.
An established brand, with deep roots in British design
Founded by iconic British furniture designer Ernest Race over 75 years ago, Race Furniture has an illustrious, and vibrant history with deep roots in British design that we are incredibly proud of.
Ernest Race, was a pioneer in post-war furniture design using new manufacturing processes and crafting iconic designs from recycled materials. The company has grown and evolved, and as a result, Race are now considered an industry leader in creating bespoke seating solutions for prestigious venues around the globe.
If you are interested in our history, please feel free to explore our timeline below.
Where it all Began
Ernest Race Ltd was formed in response to the Government’s Utility Scheme after the second World War. Engineer, Noel Jordan, advertised for a furniture designer to collaborate on a range of utilitarian, mass-produced furniture, and Ernest Race answered. The rest is our history…
The Launch of Race’s First Design
The BA3 chair by Ernest Race was made from re-purposed aluminium from redundant aircrafts and the seat covering from ex-RAF parachutes in a lightweight white cotton. The chair was exhibited at the ‘Britain Can Make It’ exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum and can still be seen there to this day.
The DA Soft Seating Range
Launched in 1946 in collaboration with Heals of London. Designed for the modern space conscious home, the DA chair and DA6 sofa represented Ernest Race’s interpretation of the classic wingback chair.
The Rocker, Race’s steel rod Rocking chair was launched in 1948. It preceded the Antelope chair and though not a fashionable concept at the time, it has become a highly collectable design icon.
The Festival of Britain
The Antelope and Springbok are designed and launched as the indoor and outdoor chairs for the Festival of Britain site. This elevated Race Furniture, to the attention of a much larger audience.
The Roebuck was designed by Ernest Race as a low-cost stacking chair for café and dining venues. Its popularity resulted in it being in full production until 1968.
P&O, Dormouse Range, Kangaroo rocker and Royal Society of Arts
The Neptune deck-chair was developed for the P&O Orient Line as Race gain numerous contracts for top ocean liners.
The Dormouse chair and settee launched as well as the Kangaroo rocker. Ernest Race was elected onto the Royal Society of Arts, Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry.
Ernest Race’s Heron chair fuses exceptional comfort, with dynamic sculptural form. The chair is a contemporary of similar designs by Eames and Saarinen.
The First Race Auditorium
Race Furniture won the contract for and fits their first auditorium at the University of Liverpool Medical School.
The Flamingo, sister to the Heron chair, won a Design Centre Award in 1959 due to its skilful use of modern materials. Ernest Race preferred the Flamingo, with its fixed cushions and inset legs, as he felt that it better suited the contract market.
The Tripos E chair & Design Centre Award
The Tripos E chair was developed for the Orient Line Ocean Liners. The Flamingo wins the Design Centre Award because of its skilful use of modern materials.
Rebrand to Race Furniture Ltd; Design Centre Award & The Sheppey Range
Ernest Race Ltd. moved from Clapham to Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey and rebrands to Race Furniture Ltd.
A Design Centre Award was given to the ingenious Cormorant, a folding, laminated mahogany chair for deck and indoor use. The Sheppey range launched.
Race Wins More Awards
The Sheppey range, comprised of 20 pieces constructed of 12 modules, won a Design Centre Award.
Ernest Race received the Society of Industrial Artists and Designers’ Design Medal.
The Maxima & Another Award
Max Clendinning designed the Maxima chair for Race Furniture.
The pedestal auditorium seating, designed by Peter Dickinson, was awarded the Council of Industrial Design’s Duke of Edinburgh Prize for Elegant Design.
CONNECT is launched
Race Furniture worked alongside Burwell Architects and Loughborough University to create the CONNECT seating system. A collaborative seating solution for educational spaces, and the first of its kind.
It went on to win numerous awards.
Acquisition by Ocee International
In December Race Furniture was acquired by British owned international furniture group Ocee International.
Meet our Founder, Ernest Race (1913 – 1964)
Ernest Race was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1913 and after graduating in interior design from London’s Bartlett School of Architecture, he joined the lighting firm Troughton & Young as a draughtsman. After visiting a weaving village in India in 1937, he returned to London and opened a shop in Knightsbridge to sell textiles and carpets.
Race did not start designing furniture until just after World War II when he answered an advertisement from engineer, J.W. Noel Jordan. His skill was to use ingenious manufacturing processes to create contemporary furniture from improvised or recycled materials.
Ernest Race went onto win many awards for his iconic designs and he became a key figure in early twentieth-century British design. His work is celebrated to this day in various exhibits, and we are proud to still manufacture his iconic mid- twentieth century designs in our Heritage Collection.