Saturday 28 June 2014

Cox tubular steel furniture. Meeting Mr.Cox / New acquisitions

Andrew Cox with a selection of one-off furniture prototypes
followers of this blog or my work might know that i'm a british tubular chair geek. Sometime last year, Adam Hills of Retrouvius called me, "I've got someone you might want to meet".
After years of assembling an archive of the british tubular steel chair industry i was always led to believe that no manufacturers archives were in existence. until now.
Adam arranged a meeting for me with Mr Andrew Cox (seen above), third generation Cox of Watford Limited, manufacturers of transport seating & metal furniture and in my mind, the leading and far superior name in tubular steel furniture. For many years the Cox family stored a large collection of production samples & prototypes in a number of barns. Adam Hills has found a safe home for many larger pieces but Mr.Cox very kindly invited me to select a number of pieces for my own archive. I can safely say this might be the best hoard I've ever found.
Every piece given is unique to my collection, designs that I've never seen before, designs that never found their way into catalogues. I will be recording every item in the coming months, the majority needs major restoration due to years of barn storage but every piece is unique and incredibly rare. I hope to publish a book and exhibit the collection one day. 
for this blog post i am just showing a few of the pieces you can see surrounding Mr.Cox in the picture above...
 above/below: (chair on left) i thought i had just about every variation of frame design made, but then along comes this very short version, also discovered in a 'sledge' leg base design. Unsure if this is an attempt at a childrens chair, the adult scale and lean to the backrest suggests it may be an adults beach or lawn concert chair.

 above/below: This is perhaps this most important and rarest piece in my collection. When Mr.Cox (Andrew's father) announced that he was having a child, the factory made him a cot. made from the same tubular steel used to make chairs and what ever could be found in the Watford factory.
below: By the same school of thought that a rare plywood leg splint is coveted by the Charles Eames collector, a Cox stretcher is surely the holy grail of all Cox designs to me. however, the design may seem fimilair to Londoners, many hundreds were recycled after the war to replace iron railings removed around churches, you can often spot them around modernist council estate green areas.
during the war, the Cox factory workers skills & machinery aided the war effort producing tubular steel stretchers with a grid mesh infill. as with many Cox pieces, these were designed to interlock and stack together tightly.

above/below: large table, unsure if this is a dining or work table, great simple cross stretcher design, one of many table variations discovered
...this is just a very small sample of the pieces found, much more coming soon. Thank you to Adam Hills at Retrouvius and Andrew Cox for his outstanding kindness and support.

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