Isokon Furniture — Modernist Dreams in Plywood


  • Magnus Englund




Modern Movement, Modern architecture, Modern housing


The Isokon Furniture Company was never commercially successful, yet its legacy has stubbornly refused to die and disappear. Even today, this radical collection of plywood furniture is manufactured and used. The main reason is of course the names associated with it: Jack Pritchard, Wells Coates, Marcel Breuer, Walter Gropius, László Moholy-Nagy and – more recently – Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby. The genius little Isokon Penguin Donkey, first designed by the Austrian émigré architect Egon Riss in 1939 and marketed by publisher Allen Lane’s then new imprint Penguin Books, is particularly popular with younger generations of design students.

How to Cite

Englund, M. (2018). Isokon Furniture — Modernist Dreams in Plywood. Docomomo Journal, (58), 82–85.





Documentation Issues


Author Biography

Magnus Englund

Co-founder of the London-based furniture retailer Skandium and the Director of the Isokon Gallery Trust. He has written several books on Scandinavian design. He currently lives in the former home of Jack & Molly Pritchard in the Isokon Building.


CANTACUZINO, Sherban, Wells Coates: a Monograph, London, Gordon Fraser Gallery, 1978.

COHN, Laura, The Door to a Secret Room: a Portrait of Wells Coates, Farnham, Ashgate Publishing, 1999.

DARLING, Elizabeth, Wells Coates, London, RIBA Enterprises, 2012.

GRIEVE, Alastair, Isokon: For Ease, For Ever, London, Isokon Plus, 2004.

POWERS, Alan, Modern: The Modern Movement in Britain, London, Merrell Publishers, 2007.

PRITCHARD, Jack, View from A Long Chair, Sydney, Law Book Co of Australasia, 1984.