29 APR 2020

Modular Vintage Storage: A Buyer’s Guide

Being housebound since lockdown began, we’ve spent a lot of time musing over our walls, or more importantly what we could imagine adorning them with. Shelving, bookcases or wall units – the list could be endless but we thought, in the exercise of keeping cabin fever at bay we would profile the beautiful pieces we wouldn’t mind having.

Words by Nicole Drake



Image above shows a vintage Tomado Shelving System designed by Adriaan Dekker
Image Credit / Mr. Bigglesworthy



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Poul Cadovius (1911–2011) was coveted a Danish designer and manufacturer from the early 20th century. Although originally trained as a saddler and upholsterer, his interest in industrial design led to the establishment of manufacturing company Royal Systems in 1945. What followed was the revolutionary idea of designing a floating, modular shelving system – maximising floor space and ending a previous conformity in shelving which had been heavy, space-stealing traditional furniture, dominated rooms and occupied too much floor space.


Image Credit / Denmark Design




The Royal system was light, elegant and moved shelving off the floor onto the walls, leaving more space within rooms. The system consisted of wood wall-mounted rails (in oak, black oak or walnut), shelves with hangers which could be brass or stainless steel and various different components like cabinets, drawers and desks, all which could be customised to meet individual requirements but also in different combinations. In fact, due to the pieces dynamic flexibility in design, the original system had 16 million combination possibilities. These could be a workspace, wall display showcasing precious objects, art and plants, components with drop down lids could transform into beautiful drinks cabinets.

"Most of us live on the bottom of a cube. If we put the walls even with the floor, we get a lot of space to live on." Poul Cadovius


Image Credit / Galerie Mobler




The Royal System would go on to win the Gold Medal at the Finland Furniture Fair in 1950 and a silver at the XI Triennale di Milano in 1957. It remained a hallmark of mid-century modern design for the duration of the 1950s and 60s.

During 1964–1967, Cadovius purchased the well-established furniture manufacturer France & Son and would go on to rename the company CADO. Through France and & Son’s extensive list of connections to prominent designers, Cadovius had a long collaborative relationship with Sigvar Bernadotte, Grete Jalk, Arne Vodder, Edvard Kindt-Larsen and Finn Juhl. Cadovius’ minimal aesthetic is considered a perfect harmony between form and function – industrial and organic, affordable and elegant.


Image Credit / Mr. Bigglesworthy


Image Credit / Mr. Bigglesworthy


Image Credit / Mr. Bigglesworthy




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Kai Kristiansen (1929– ) is one of the most innovative and talented Danish designers of the mid 20th century. His mentor was the famed father of modern Danish furniture design, Kaare Klint. Kristiansen excelled as a cabinetmaker and in 1955 set up his own design workshop.

His skill was quickly recognised by some of Denmark’s finest cabinetmakers and the designs he produced comprises some of the most stunning furniture produced during the mid-century era. His work is defined by clean lines and a perfect balance of form and function.


Image Credit / Great Dane Furniture




Kai Kristiansen's FM Reolsystem is a stylish, functional, interchangeable modular shelving storage. Finished in Teak or vibrantly grained Rosewood, with stainless steel rails providing shelving, storage and display cabinets that could be adjusted to unique requirements. With streamlined angles, pared back proportions, console or cabinet components and refined craftsmanship, Reolsystems make an elegant addition to any contemporary space.


Image Credit / Capperi Di Casa


Image Credit / Capperi Di Casa




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Mid-century 'String' shelving was a huge hit, however the shelves could only be used if there was enough free wall space. Enter Ladderax - the shelving system designed by Robert Heal for Staples of Cricklewood. The unit allowed complete free-standing flexibility with a selection of uprights, storage compartments and shelves.

The design offered a more industrial look than the String system, with thick edged uprights and 'ladder' rungs in black which support the teak storage and shelving components. These pieces exhibited trademark quality construction, were simple to assemble and designed to showcase books and objects.


Image Credit / b-vds.co.uk


Image Credit / Mr. Bigglesworthy


Image Credit / Pinterest




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Tomado was established in 1923 by Dutch brothers Jan and Wim Van der Togt in the small town of Dordrecht in the Netherlands. The company initially specialised in producing copper hooks and other simple home wares. By the mid 20th century Tomado had grown to become one of Holland's leading producers of innovative products for the modern home.

Of the many products that Tomado produced, one design stands out as the definitive icon of the companies' celebrated legacy – the Tomado Shelving System. The design was an instant success and has since become a national treasure, even gracing its own postage stamp.

Visit Good Form for more details about Tomado


Image Credit / Good Form




On its release in 1958, the string like wall shelves were quickly embraced by aspiring homes throughout the Netherlands. It was the perfect product, a beautifully designed and affordable wall shelf with modular functionality.


Image Credit / Good Form


Image Credit / Good Form

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