Scottish furniture manufacturer McIntosh is best known on the vintage market for their mid-century style furniture, particularly for teak cabinetry and sideboards
Founded in 1869 by Alexander Henry (A.H) McIntosh (1835-1919) in Kirkcaldy in the Fife region of Scotland, the business quickly grew in size, requiring a new, larger premises for the prosperous firm just a decade later. In 1879, McIntosh bought a new factory, opening Victoria Cabinet Works a year later. At the same time of expansion, McIntosh was establishing a reputation in continental Europe and Australia, exhibiting at the World Fair in Paris in 1878 and the Sydney Exhibition in 1879.
Though little information regarding McIntosh’s early designs is available, it is known that the factory—like many British enterprises—joined the war effort during the First World War. With most workers (including the founder’s grandson, Henry) called up to enlist, the McIntosh factory began manufacturing airplane wings and other parts for the duration of the war. During this time, Alexander Henry’s son Thomas Wishart McIntosh (1861–1933), headed the family business from London, where McIntosh had established an office.
Despite an aesthetic that could be mistaken as Danish modern in the mid-century period, the company marketed itself, both at home and abroad, as proud Scottish firm that utilized traditional processes that employed local, highly-skilled cabinetmakers. The McIntosh label which survives on many 1950s and 1960s pieces, shows the Scottish thistle and crown, a long-time symbol of Scotland. From 1948 until 1983, Tom Robertson worked as head designer for the firm; creating his most notable design, the teak Dunvegan sideboard (1960s) known for its sculpted handles.
McIntosh employed 85 craftspeople when the firm decided to enter into the educational furniture industry in 2004, a direct result of the decline in the popularity of traditionally produced British furniture in its home market. The company continues to produce a wide range of school furniture, under the name ESA McIntosh.