Hull Traders: Revolutionary Fabrics
Bernard Holdaway and tomotom Furniture
Created by Holdaway (1934-2009) and manufactured by Hull Traders, tomotom was a range of low-price furniture with a Pop aesthetic, based entirely on a circular theme – cylinders, discs and spheres. Conceived as a collection that could be added to over time, the ‘circle’ allowed for greater flexibility in grouping and arrangement.
In order to keep costs down and increase the market potential, Holdaway came up with the idea of using cardboard tubes as the principal material, with chipboard used tor table tops and seats. A tough enamel spray-paint created a smooth, high-gloss finish in eye-catching colours. The durable finish meant t omotom furniture was suitable for commercial settings, such as hotels, schools and waiting areas. The curved edges and bright colours were also ideal for children and Holdaway’s original drawings include custom-designed nursery furniture and toys.
tomotom was launched at the Ideal Home Exhibition in March 1966. The ‘throw away’ concept of buying cheap furniture which would only last a few years was radical at the time, as was the notion of selling exclusively by mail order and bypassing old-fashioned furniture retailers. ‘The whole concept of people buying things to last a lifetime is ended’ said Holdaway at the time.
Cheap, stylish, youthful and fun, tomotom was a big hit with young people who wanted something different. George Best even chose tomotom furniture when he opened his Manchester boutique in 1967. Magazine features and appearances on television provided free publicity and by 1969, the tomotom range included lamps, bins, chairs, tables, stools and shelves. Production continued until around 1971.