Paying tribute to furniture designer Peter Crutch

The funeral of Peter Crutch was held last month. His fight with cancer had lasted for two-and-a-half years.

For those of us privileged to know him, his death has been met with much sadness. That so many of his friends and colleagues from the design industry attended the service is testament to the affection and regard with which he was held.

Peter graduated from the Royal College of Art in the early 1960s, alongside a number of luminaries and friends that included David Hockney. From those heady student days he was to experience his first taste of commercial reality at the offices of Sir Basil Spence, where he developed furniture ranges for the new Sussex University faculty buildings.

In the mid-1960s he joined Conran Design Group where some of the most exciting commercial design work was being produced.

His work for the British Airports Authority at Heathrow’s Terminal 1 produced one of the most successful ranges of airport concourse seating – the Terminus Range. Another such landmark was the remarkable experimental school he designed in London’s Hammersmith for the Vanessa Redgrave Trust.

In his time at CDG and Fitch he produced furniture ranges for Ryman Conran, New Equipment, Hostess, and the Pel Group. His most significant working relationship was, however, with his close friend Alan Zoeftig for whom he designed the Zoe stool in 1969, and the Top End range of domestic furniture in 1972. This is still in production some 30 years on.

His last project was to advise Alan on the recent Zoeftig retrospective exhibition at the Design Museum in London.

As a partner and director of Fitch he led a young and talented team in the design of the interior spaces and concourse furniture for BAA at Heathrow’s Terminal 4 – still regarded 18 years later as one of the most user-friendly international airport terminals.

He was also exceptionally skilled in recognising young talent, and many of those he encouraged and influenced have gone on to contribute to the growth of the industry that he cared for so much.

Throughout these years his well-known passion for the Alfa Romeo marque remained constant and the collection of cars he assembled and raced was a striking analogy of his love of style, pedigree and performance.

In an industry that has its fair share of posturing and hubris, Peter was conspicuous by his unassuming nature. He was a quiet man, an urbane man, and for many of us he was the epitome of cool. Most of all he was a family man. He will be missed.

John Bampton

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