Heal, Ambrose (1872-1959) by Scholes, Robert

Ambrose Heal (1872 – 1959) Sir Ambrose Heal was born at Crouch End. His family’s firm, Heal & Son, was a furnishings company on Tottenham Court Road. Ambrose was keenly interested in design, and embraced the Arts and Crafts movement at a young age. After spending an apprenticeship with Messrs Plucknett of Warwick, Ambrose Heal had obtained a post with a mass production manufacturer in London As a designer of furniture, he was a follower of Ruskin and William Morris, but tried to bring a high level of craftsmanship closer to what middle class families could afford. Before the turn of the 20th Century, Heal was merging his family’s interest in commercial sales with the Arts and Crafts design ideal. but left before lunch, disgusted with the level of workmanship and design. When Ambrose Heal decided to take Arts and Crafts design into wider production, it was apparent that the simple construction and plain ornament so integral to the style was perfectly suited to mass production. Heal & Son produced an identifiable style, often adapted by Ambrose Heal himself. This well made furniture, born of good, solid design, solved one of the problems that the Arts and Craft purist was increasingly faced with: their hand-made furniture, designed to be used by the common man, was priced out of the common man’s reach. Because Heal’s designs were mass produced, his work is only recently being given the credit it is due. From Arts and Crafts to Art moderne, Sir Ambrose Heal was . After succeeding to the control of the firm in 1913, Heal saw that the firm moved with the times, and later did much to popularize Art deco in England. he was knighted for services to furniture in 1933. Other interests of Sir Ambrose’s included typography and collecting early ephemera, including tradesman’s cards of the 18th Century. that rare thing: a successful pioneer who never lost touch with economic realities Anthony Ludovici, in for January 30, 1913 , took exception to Heal’s work, calling it The New Age (NA 12.13:305) devoid of either imagination or power.

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