Nestled into South London suburbia sits the warehouse and workshop of the Twentieth Century furniture company, 1934. We took a train down to Beckenham on a sunny Saturday and met with the founder and owner, Abel Sloane.
What’s in a name?
With a name straight from a swashbuckling detective novel, Abel Sloane is everything you would expect him to be – stylish, cool and slightly unexpected. Abel started 1934 straight after graduating with a degree in English and American Literature from Goldsmiths three years ago, and has pursued a simple, pared-back aesthetic ever since. He’s worked with the likes of Jil Sanders Navy and Whistles to name but a few, with his keen eye and style making his pieces hot property.
What’s his style?
He favours pieces that are simple and timeless, with a love of interiors “that have just ‘happened’ almost accidentally.” Along with his partner, Ruby Woodhouse, Abel now also pursues interior design and styling projects which reflect this uncomplicated, straightforward feeling.
We asked him to pick a few of his favourite pieces and talk to us about why he loves each of them.
ILMARI TAPIOVAARA CHAIR AND STOOL, 1963
What do you love about these pieces?
This simple chair and stool are part of a larger dining table set designed by Finnish designer Ilmari Tapiovaara in 1963. The set is made from pine – a simple and affordable material, and the understated design is based on a basic principle of vertical and horizontal lines.
These understated stools are quite straightforward and the simplest way to keep your bum from the floor. That’s what I love about them, their simplicity.
DARK WOODEN ARMCHAIR DESIGNED BY GERRIT RIETVELD
What do you love about this chair?
I bought this Gerrit Rietveld chair over a year ago from another dealer as a piece for myself. Supporting the trade and all that! Handmade in the 1970s, these designs are usually made in the signature Red and Blue style so this simple dark wood is a rarer piece.
I admire Gerrit Rietveld as an interior designer, as well as an architect and furniture designer. His Schroderhuis, which I visited a few years ago, left me very inspired, even at the beginnings of ‘1934’. The interior space can be utilised and transformed by the inhabitant (Mrs Schroder) to suit whoever was living with her at the time. Walls are moveable and removable, furniture is easy to move or fold against the wall and at the same time the building and everything in it is very much of a domestic scale.
ALVAR AALTO BLUE STOOLS
What do you love about these stools?
These blue-topped Alvar Aalto stools were bought recently from a props buyer in Tooting and haven’t yet been loaded up onto the website but will be in the coming days. I take my time doing some research and understanding the history and provenance of the pieces I sell. I enjoy this almost as much as the sourcing itself.
The slight bend where the stool legs meet the seat is the signature Aalta curve, a beautiful and elegant method used to create these soft edges.
What do you do when you’re not working?
When I’m not working I tend to be thinking about working. It’s hard to just stop thinking about what you’re doing, what you’re planning on doing and when you’re going to do it. Ruby and I both love what we do and it’s something that doesn’t stop. I suppose you could class reading books, visiting exhibitions, walking through junk shops and markets as leisure activities. They are, but they’re also in the name of business. It’s all fun, and I suppose I never really class what I’m doing as work… other than the boring parts like admin.
What are you reading?
In amongst books on architecture, furniture and photography, I’m reading some short stories by Yukio Mishima (leant to me by a friend). The first story in there is called ‘Death in Midsummer’, and I tend to read this when I’m on trains or have 5 minutes. They’re really short stories about odd snippets into lives of people at strange but significant events.
More of Abel’s furniture and styling projects can be found on his website and we look forward to seeing more of him in the future!