Tea Rooms don’t immediately come to mind as being the latest in architecture and interior design and yet this was exactly the case of the Willow Rooms on Sauchiehall St, Glasgow, when ran by the formidable matron Miss Cranston.
She was a staunch supporter of the Temperance Movement and, unusually in that era, a driven and business-minded entrepreneur locked in fierce competition with, of all people, her brother.
Cranston and Mackintosh first met in 1896 to begin a remarkably fruitful working partnership through the first decades of the twentieth century. Tea rooms first in Buchanan Street and then Argyle Street served to incubate Mackintosh’s genius for design with these venues bearing witness first to magnificent murals and then the iconic high-back chair.
It was only the third venue at 217 Sauchiehall Street, however, where Mackintosh was given free rein to design everything from the furniture to the façade, the floors to the flatware, and what resulted was an instant classic, iconic in its originality and timeless in its influence, now recreated at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum.
With its signature treffid finial this latest example is a simple but elegant reminder of Mackintosh’s genius and passion for design, whether it be a frontage on Glasgow’s busiest street or a comparatively humble utensil.
Original relics from these tea rooms rarely come to market and with the last teaspoon bearing the rare ‘Miss Cranston’s’ stamp being offered in these rooms back in 2019 we would suggest that it is very much ‘time for tea’.
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