A Modern Classic Desk by Ercol

Every year it’s the same – the sun comes out and the exams start. Actually I know the GCSEs and A Levels are already done, but in this house we are having a year off from those and, true to form, as the sun came out this morning the 14yo headed off to school for his second week of mocks.

And so, belatedly some might say, thoughts turn to desks. As you know I often work at the kitchen table and the desk in the office upstairs is built in, but that doesn’t stop me appreciating these. Or thinking that they might come in handy for some of you, so when the press release landed in my inbox the other day I thought I would share.

Ercol was founded in 1920 by a young Italian immigrant Lucian Ercolani who had a simple ambition – to make well-designed furniture in a good working environment by craftsmen who took pride in their jobs. The great-grandson of an evangelical preacher, who had upset the Catholic leaders of Florence, the Ercolani family had arrived in England in 1894, helped by the Salvation Army.

Lucian went to the Shoreditch College of Furniture before setting up his company. Over the years, the company has produced a fair number of pieces that are now regarded as design classics, including the butterfly chair ,  the love seat, and the Chairmakers , or Windsor, chair that is still a bestseller.

Ercol is now run by Lucian’s grandson Edward Tadros, who told me some years ago when I interviewed him for a piece in The Independent: “Lucian was always fiddling with the designs and the boardroom is full of prototypes that didn’t quite work or didn’t last very long.”

These days the company still creates its own designs but also collaborates with other leading figures in the industry such as Matthew Hilton, who created the desk at the top, and Tomuko Azumi. I also think it’s worth pointing out that Ruth Wasserman, head of design at, a company which I think is going from strength to strength, joined the start-up from Ercol.

You can find all these desks here on the Ercol website at varying prices. The one below is perhaps the most practical if you live in a small space as it can double up as a table and the shallow drawer means you can shove your pens and notebooks and laptop in there at the end of the day if you need to lay it for supper in a hurry. It costs around £1,110 but it’s a British-made future classic.

Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. I love this desk. We have it on our small mezz. It’s a pleasure to sit at it. I don’t even mind deadlines or bills at this desk (we’ll not so much anyway!)

  2. Absolutely loving your daily updates, kate! They’re just the right size, informative, with beautiful images. Such a great range of topics too, I never know what’s going to land in my inbox next! Thank you 🙂 x

  3. Absolutely loving your daily updates kate! They’re informative and just the right size!

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