Tecta/Crass Chair

When modernism goes bad
Eric Lyons OBE/ Adam Chodzko
Nationality of Designer
Packet Furniture Co.
Manufacturers Location
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England (UK)
Brentwood Ply, Vintage Leather Jacket
89 x 54 cm
Purchase Price


Tecta Chair by Eric Lyons 1940s / Crass Fan Leather Jacket 1990s


Purchased in 2006 from Help the Aged furniture warehouse in Kendal for Lawson Park. Leather Jacket belonged to a Crass fan in the 1980s

Personal history/nominator

Purchased by Adam Sutherland because of (rather than despite of) the original alterations.


A previous owner had adapted the chair in an attempt to age it and make it look more like a Victorian chair. The heavy mahogany varnish and red velvet seat with brocade edging have been replaced and reupholstered by Adam Chodzko. Marked on the underside of the seat. 

Why it's in the Collection

With its original alteration, this chair seems to reflect a certain comment on modernism, and an expression of a 2000’s approach, a 'choice culture' that draws and mixes multiple periods, cultures and aesthetics. The conversion of a ‘modern’ design classic into an faux historical piece seems entirely conceptual as it would surely have been much easier and convincing to buy a cheap older styled chair. Because of it’s unoriginal state and its potential for re-evaluation as an art piece within the context of this Collection, the value is in what the chair offers in terms of cultural history rather than any intrinsic worth.

The designer, Eric Lyons, worked for SPAN, a high density housing ideology that promoted communal living with carefully designed shared buildings. Lyons was a true community architect and the designs worked well and remained popular. Although many of the unique ideas of the SPAN scheme have gone, most importantly the communal eating.

Crass were an almost anti-punk band that became synonymous with the Punk movement. They doggedly persued an anti-capitalist stance from their commune in Essex. The commune, Dial House, became a magnet for the members of an alternative lifestyle that included loud music and drugs. Last reports saw the band running workshops on composting toilets and organic gardening - so, still trying to save us.

Adam Chodzko brings these two related and perhaps failed ideologies as a meaningful chair for Grizedale Arts new artist residency and farm, Lawson Park (once owned by John Ruskin) as a kind of critique of attempts to make a better world - beware the chair, the artists chair, the poets chair, the throne. He creates a critique of the attempt to make a utopia, that's what artists have been doing since the 60s, being critical, debunking the status quo, and the systems that have been so carefully set up over the millennia. They call it deconstruction - are we now looking to artists to reconstruct this mess, the social chaos wrought by the dismantling of the social systems? It could be a long wait, its been 50 years. Can art save us? It should at least try because it's contributed to getting us into this mess

About the Designer/Maker

Eric Lyons OBE (1912–1980) was principally an architect, most famous for his work for SPAN, the innovative housing developer of the 1950's.

Lyons' father was a toy designer. He worked for T.P. Bennett and from 1938 for architects Gropius and Fry. During the Second World War Lyons worked for Harry Weedon designing factories and hostels. After the War he resumed his practice. The housing scheme he devised in 1948 in Twickenham demonstrated how the landscaping of the common space could provide a visual link between the built elements. This was a theme that continued through his work, working as architect and landscape architect. 
During the 1940's Lyons designed the best-selling Tecta range for the furniture manufacturer Packet.

By the early 1960's, Lyons had designed housing schemes for SPAN at Blackheath, Beckenham, Twickenham, Teddington, Putney and Cambridge. Eric Lyons and Partners had also been involved in the design of high-density housing estates for local authorities in London and Southampton. Lyons approach was all embracing. He believed that the architect should provide a service to society. Lyons was convinced that residents' societies helped engender a sense of belonging and community. Lyons performed the function of 'architectural generalist' taking an active involvement in the design, town planning and landscaping requirements of the SPAN housing schemes. Many of the schemes remain popular places to live to this day.

Adam Chodzko (b. 1965) is a contemporary British artist. His practice uses a wide range of media, including video, installation, photography, drawing, and performance. Specifically his work draws from utopian thinking through sci-fi, craft and local thinking. He graduated from the University of Manchester in 1988 with a degree in the History of Art and in 1994 completed an MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London. He has since exhibited internationally.

About the Manufacturer

The Packet Furniture Company, based in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk (UK), were celebrated, leading manufacturers of low cost design in the post war era employing important designers of the time such as Lyons and G A Jenkins.

In 1946 the Victoria and Albert Museum curated the "Britain Can Make it" exhibition to celebrate the launch of the first permanent gallery within the Museum that focused on "the greatest works of English decorative art" and included several Packet designs.

Lyons designed many pieces for Packet including a series of flat pack tables and chairs.

Bibliography & Further information

T.P Bennett

Harry Weedon

Interesting portraits of Lyons