The Ernest Race BA3 Chair was Ernest Race’s first design for Race Furniture. First exhibited at the ‘Britain Can Make It’ exhibition of 1946, the design was awarded a gold medal at the Milan Triennale in 1954. At a time of limited resources, the BA3 manufacturing process was revolutionary and used salvaged materials, including recast aluminium from redundant aircraft and upholstery from recycled RAF lightweight cotton duck fabric. Early examples of the BA3 are on display at MOMA in New York and the Victoria & Albert in London.
Through the engineering skill of Ernest Race and his partner Noel Jordan, the Ernest Race BA3 Chair became one of the world’s first mass produced chairs. From 1945 to 1964 over 250,000 BA chairs were produced from 850 tons of re-smelted aluminium scrap. In 1947, wood was slightly more plentiful and the BA2 with a veneer backrest was introduced.
The new metal furniture was very well received and one of the first orders included 1,500 chairs and tables for troop-ships that were bringing home demobilised servicemen. One of the selling points for the shipping sector was that the chair was strong and ‘safe against ticks, bugs, moths, all extremes of climate – and treatment’ (Ship Building & Shipping advert 1957).
– In 1951 the BA3 was one of three Race chairs chosen for the Festival of Britain exhibition site.
– The BA3 is still manufactured by Race Furniture, the enduring appeal of this iconic chair is illustrated by its presence in restaurants, workplaces and homes across the world.