Wednesday 8 April 2015

Hille Table Designed by Alan Turville.

A Hille Table designed 1968 by the companies staff designer Alan Turville LSIA.

The table is somewhat revolutionary.
 It is amongst the first domestic pieces of furniture to be made from Bagasse' and the step towards reconstituting materials that would otherwise be wasted.
This would of course reduce unit costs in the post war austerity years and lends itself to production on a huge scale.
This unfortunately is a step away from craftsman based manufacture and towards the realm of robotic production.
Bagasse is the waste that is left over from sugar cane after the extraction. The material is then resin bonded and the Bagasse becomes a strong stable easily moulded material with many uses.
Bagasse Products Co Ltd is a company that was set up in 1964 by Tate and Lyle and Hille.
 They developed the new easily mould-able material they called Bagelle where resin and other materials are bonded.
 This yields a powder or sheet material that can be easily cut to shape and then veneered.
Melamine impregnated paper or fabric is then attached.
 Inside the mouldings provisions can be made to bond fixings such as screw threads or bolts.
Simple, perhaps. Too simple for my liking as a craftsman.
 From this moment on a simulation of a table walnut or mahogany top would creep into the minds of the public.
When this material is laminated it is then that it becomes a material they called Bellamine.
The table is easily put together and would be easily carried home by the customer.
This makes storage very easy as the goods can be warehoused or stored out of the way with just one object needed to tempt the buyer.
The stem fixes to the leg which in turn attaches to the lipped top.

The lipped edge means it will not spill fluids or spills from the top onto the floor.
It is impervious to damp unless you abuse it. The top is resistant to heat and will take hot dishes maybe even the Pyrex ones.
We know the sketch now, we have all put together shelving systems from Scandinavian firms, but this would have been something out of the ordinary in the late 50's leading through to the 1960's.
Hille invested in HIA Plastics Ltd that made the rigid polyurethane foam used in the manufacture of chairs such as the polypropylene chair designed by Robin Day.
Like the table, parts of it could be interchangeable for different styles of base.
This shell, for this chair could be mass manufactured and therefore could be made in huge quantities and has sold well since 1963.
Alan Turville was co designer with John Lewar, of a wall storage system that won the Design Centre Award in 1965.

How many people were put out of business because of these new methods?

Was this the beginning of the end of cabinet making?

What happened to the craftsmen who were training the apprentices?

Probably working in MFI turning out the rubbish they made, what always makes me laugh is the pathetic idea of making water penetrable and damageable fibre board into units to go underneath a sink!

There's progress for you.

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