Helping Hands recreate classic furniture for the RSC

22 June 2012

Classic Art Deco style furniture, based on an original design by Elisabeth Scott, the architect behind the 1932 Royal Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, has been delivered to the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).

High Wycombe based furniture makers, Hands, has lovingly recreated the metal table and chairs which were originally made in the Worcestershire workshop of Sir Gordon Russell, one of the design world's most celebrated and decorated craftsmen.

Set up in the 1920s and inspired by the Arts and Craft Movement which flourished in the early twentieth century, Sir Gordon's company initially produced bespoke handmade pieces but later achieved widespread recognition for producing affordable machine made modern furniture of the highest quality.

Hugely influential in the field of design and industry, Gordon Russell was knighted for his services in 1955 and today a museum, located on the site of his workshop in Broadway, Worcestershire, contains examples of his work alongside original design drawings, photographs and catalogues covering the history of the company.

Furniture makers Hands, which has itself been in the business for over 100 years, secured the rights to produce limited edition replicas of Gordon Russell's original pieces so the RSC commissioned them to recreate the tables and chairs once housed in the theatre created by Elisabeth Scott. The furniture now takes pride of place on the terrace of its Rooftop Restaurant in the RSC's revitalised building.

Sara Aspley, Director of Commercial Services at the RSC said:

'When we set about transforming our premises we were mindful to preserve as far as possible the original facets of Elisabeth Scott's wonderful Art Deco design.

'We've achieved this through subtle touches and by retaining unique, quirky features and there's evidence of that philosophy throughout the building particularly in our Rooftop Restaurant where brickwork and impressions from the old auditorium are still visible.

'We're acknowledging the historical collaboration between Elisabeth Scott and Gordon Russell through the recreation of this furniture, which has been beautifully crafted by Hands, another well established company with local provenance.

'Now members of the public can make use of these lovely tables and chairs on the terrace of our Rooftop Restaurant. It's a beautiful spot to enjoy some tea, cake and a slice of our theatre's history.'

Ray Leigh of the Gordon Russell Trust said:

'In 1932 the commission to supply furniture designed by Elizabeth Scott led to a long and valued association and we are delighted that the newly transformed and splendid theatre has retained, through the furnishing of the Rooftop Restaurant, the former links with Gordon Russell.'

Paul Reilly of Hands said:

'We are delighted and enormously proud that the RSC decided to rekindle its links with Gordon Russell by asking us to make these replica tables and chairs. Whilst following the original conceptual designs we have used materials and methods that have allowed us to enhance the comfort as well as being health and safety compliant to modern standards.'


Further press information
For further information please contact Mark Farnan in the RSC press office on 01789 272438 or via email:

About Gordon Russell
Gordon Russell was a renowned twentieth century furniture designer, knighted for his services to Design and Industry in 1955. The Gordon Russell Museum, located in the original grade II listed workshop in Broadway, Worcestershire, celebrates his work and that of his company.

About Hands
Founded by William Hands, a professional cabinet and chair marker, the company has been manufacturing for over 100 years on the existing site at High Wycombe. The current head office and factory are still situated in High Wycombe on the site of his original workshop.

About the Rooftop Restaurant
Sitting on the third floor of the Royal Shakespeare Company's newly transformed theatres in Stratford-upon-Avon, The Rooftop Restaurant supports and promotes British cooking and produce from Warwickshire, the West Midlands and around the country. The Rooftop Restaurant appears in the new entry listings in the 2012 Good Food and Michelin Guides.
Bookings can be made on 01789 403449, online or by email at

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