You’ll find vintage Ercol furniture in all our English Houses, from Shoreditch to Soho Farmhouse. Made with the same materials and techniques as their Mid-Century counterparts, our Ercol Originals will slot just as easily into your home. We visited the 160,000 square foot Ercol factory in Princes Risborough to learn a bit more about how they are made.

Woods surround the purpose-built factory with natural light streaming through the glass sides of the building. At the front is a showroom displaying Ercol’s current collection as well as iconic examples of Ercol furniture from the archive and a long board where the names of employees who have worked for the company for over 21 years are engraved (600 and counting). The design team upstairs have a view of the factory floor where their pieces are made.

Steam-bending

These days steam bending is largely an artisan technique – Ercol is one of a very few companies doing it on a larger scale. Pieces of wood are steamed in a kiln that works just like a kettle, then bent into shape in one of three methods, by hand using a strap, machine bent using a forma or with a radio frequency machine, before being dried overnight in a kiln. Steam bent wood will hold its shape unless you put it outside where it will absorb moisture and unbend.

Sanding

Trevor sands a chair back on a machine, while checking it by eye and hand for accuracy. This is exactly the same way they were made when they were first designed, using the electrical sanders which came from the original Ercol factory in High Wycombe to this one in 2002. Pipes suck up the sawdust which goes into a biomass boiler that powers the machines in the factory, while all waste is kept outside in the summer months and chopped up into pellets to be used through winter months.

Made by hand

Nick has been with Ercol for 38 years. To assemble our stacking chair he puts PVA glue into drill holes in the back underframe, then hammers in the uprights before he drills and screws in them in. Wooden buttons are glued in to cover the holes. He judges every detail by hand and eye.

Finishing

Our furniture is sprayed with a water-based lacquer in a ‘dead matt’ which has a tiny bit of colour to add depth, while giving a natural finish and sealing the timber. Water based lacquers used which raise the grain as the wood absorbs the water, so it’s then sanded again to give a smooth surface.

Soho Farmhouse

You'll find vintage Ercol furniture in the cabins and throughout the club spaces at Soho Farmhouse.