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1960s Coventry Cathedral chair by Dick Russell goes back into production

in Design Nerd by
An oak chair originally created for the post-war Coventry Cathedral rebuild by Scottish architect Basil Spence is being put back into production with an updated design.


The Coventry Chair, designed by Dick Russell in 1960, will be manufactured by London-based furniture makers Luke Hughes – a company that has designed furniture for palaces, cathedrals, churches and museums worldwide.


“It’s an iconic 1960s design, beautiful in itself, practical, hard-wearing and passing that key test – really important for churches – of minimising visual impact on the interior,” said Hughes. “So many beautiful church interiors are ruined by inappropriate furniture.”


The original European oak Coventry Chair was created by 20th-century designer Richard Drew Russell, better known as Dick Russell. Russell was born in 1903, and originally trained as an architect before becoming head of design at his brother Gordon’s influential furniture company, Gordon Russell Ltd.

He left the firm in 1934 to pursue his own work, and was appointed a Royal Designer for Industry in 1944, later going to become head of the School of Wood, Metals and Plastics at the Royal College of Art.


He designed the chair to furnish the rebuilt Coventry Cathedral, which was almost entirely destroyed by bombing in the second world war. Basil Spence’s 1950 redesign for the site earned the Scottish architect a knighthood in 1960 before the cathedral was completed in 1962.

The chair featured a tab-shaped back rest and a slightly angled seat with an opening in the back to create a shelf for storing hymn books.

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