SCP – The Arrangement of Furniture in a Museum

London's Design Museum is celebrating 30 years of SCP with a show that reminds us of the Brit design brand's greatest hits. Are you ready to go back to the future?

BY DEE IVA

Ah, 1985... we remember it well. Dead or Alive had their first and last number 1 with ‘You Spin Me Round’, Queen was reborn and Bob Geldof swore live on TV during Live Aid. In Soapland, Den and Angie fought like cat and dog as EastEnders graced our screens for the first time, and Krystle and Alexis battled over the Carrington mansion with big hair and even bigger shoulder pads in Dynasty.

ABOVE: 'Tam Tam Tom Tom' tables by Konstantin Grcic, 1992
ABOVE RIGHT: Pete Burns from Dead or Alive; the cast of Dynasty; Bob Geldof at Live Aid; Freddie Mercury at Live Aid; Angie, Den and Sharon Watts in EastEnders

Amid this maelstrom of activity a young Sheridan Coakley launched a new UK furniture brand, SCP. Coakley (left) started SCP with the idea of seeking out and selling classic furniture from the Modern Movement, but swiftly moved on to producing and manufacturing new pieces in the same spirit with up-and-coming British designers including Jasper Morrison and Matthew Hilton.

Well, Den and Angie, shoulder pads and Live Aid may be consigned to the past, but 30 years on SCP is still alive and kicking and in seriously good health. Coakley’s desire to go against the grain and do things on his own terms has served him well. His maverick nature has attracted like-minded designers such as Michael Marriott, Konstantin GrcicRobin Day and artist Rachel Whiteread, whose offbeat talents have produced items that have become SCP classics.

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ABOVE: SCP's 2015 Milan show, 'The Arrangement of Furniture in a Room'

At this year’s Milan Furniture Fair, SCP eschewed the glitzy showroom and adopted a more guerrilla/street style approach to exhibiting. In a small side street in the new design district of San Gregorio Docet, specially selected prototypes, re-issues and new products were displayed upon vintage items of furniture in a typically quirky fashion. Curated by British designer Michael Marriott, the show played upon the juxtaposition of the old and new and the stylistic relationships between the pieces. 

BELOW: 'Missed Daybed', Michael Marriott, 1998; 'Oscar' sofa, Matthew Hilton, 2009; 'Mono' side table, Konstantin Grcic, 1995

ABOVE: 'Daybed', Rachel Whiteread, 1999

This temporary pop-up show has now been given a more elevated status by London’s Design Museum. To coincide with the launch of 'SCP Classics', a new collection which sees the most coveted pieces from the SCP archives relaunched or re-imagined, Shad Thames’ temple of modern design will recreate Marriott’s original show where Londoners can preview the Classics collection for the first time. Titled 'The Arrangement of Furniture in a Museum', it showcases more than 40 pivotal products spanning SCP's history, composed by long-time collaborator Marriott.

Not many things really stand the test of time, but three decades later SCP is still forging its own path and delivering modern design classics. Sheridan, we salute you…
scp.co.uk   designmuseum.org

'The Arrangement of Furniture in a Museum' runs from 24 May to 6 June 2015.
Design Museum, 28 Shad Thames, London SE1.