Jack Pritchard


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Design entrepreneur Jack Pritchard was educated at Cambridge University, where he took a degree in engineering and economics in 1922. After a period of employment with Michelin (1922–5) he developed a strong interest in the Modernist aesthetic whilst working for the Venesta Furnishing Company. He commissioned Le Corbusier for the design of a company stand at the Building Trades Exhibition at Olympia, London, in 1930. His familiarity with the European avant‐garde was consolidated by a visit to the Dessau Bauhaus in 1931 with architect‐designers Serge Chermayeff and Wells Coates. Four years later he met the Finnish architect‐designer Alvar Aalto, who showed him and the critic Philip Morton Shand his Paimio Sanatorium and Finmar furniture workshops. Pritchard did much to promote Modernism in Britain, particularly as chairman of the Design and Industries Association (DIA). In 1933 Pritchard, his wife Molly, and Wells Coates founded the Isokon Company responsible for overseeing the ambitious Lawn Road Flats project (completed 1934) in Hampstead, North London. The flats were designed by Coates around the concept of ‘minimum living’ linked to common services, a concept that was being explored internationally by many architects associated with the CIAM, and were equipped with plywood furniture designed by Isokon. Among the residents of the Lawn Road Flats were a number of celebrated figures who had fled the difficult political context of Nazi Germany, including former Bauhaus staff members Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, and László Moholy‐Nagy. Breuer and Gropius designed furniture for Isokon, whilst Moholy‐Nagy designed company leaflets. Pritchard also introduced Gropius to Henry Morris, the Chief Education Officer for Cambridge, which led to Gropius' commission for the design of Impington Village College in 1939. After the Second World War Pritchard became director of the Furniture Development Council, retiring in the 1960s.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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