This cabinet, which entered the collection of The Victoria & Albert Museum in 1956, was commissioned by W.J. Bassett-Lowke for the furnishing of 78 Derngate in 1916. Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, it matches in style and appearance the dark finish, angular forms and vivid contrasts of colour seen in his interior scheme for the Hall Lounge. The cabinet features inlays of yellow plastic triangles and lozenges to complement the décor. Mackintosh was one of the first furniture designers to experiment with the use of plastic as an inlay. Casein plastic inlays, likely to have been German-made ‘Galalith’ were used by him at The Chinese Room at the Ingram Street Tea Rooms, Glasgow, in 1911. A British-made version of this material, ‘Erinoid’ was suggested to Mackintosh in a letter to him around 1916 by Bassett-Lowke. The V&A have undertaken conservation of the the cabinet and have documented the approach to their work. The Erinoid inlays have shown signs of deterioration as a result of chemical decomposition. Some losses and also damage to the timber components have occurred. A detailed account is available here.
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Place of Origin: Isle of Man (probably, made)
Date: 1916 (made)
Artist/Maker: Mackintosh, Charles Rennie, born 1868 – died 1928 (designer)
Materials and Techniques: Ebonised wood, lined with cedar and inlaid with Erinoid (plastic)
Museum number: CIRC.856:1, 2-1956