Ladderax adjustable, modular shelving systems are a true mid century design classic and are very highly sought after today. The ‘down side’ is that their growth in popularity over the last decade has resulted in ever increasing prices for these set-ups. So, let’s find out about the origins of ladderax and all of the features that make it so desirable …
Ladderax was designed by Robert Heal in 1964 and manufactured by Staples of Cricklewood in London for sale in high end stores like Harrods, Heals, etc. Heal was influenced by the Danish school of design. This mid century Scandinavian design movement was all about reinterpreting simple, linear shapes from earlier design periods and making them ‘simpler’.
The Ladderax system combines upright ‘ladders’ that support shelves and cabinets, which sit on steel rods that hook onto the rungs of the ladders. One of the great benefits of Ladderax over its Scandinavian counterparts is that it doesn’t need to be attached to the wall. It comes in two styles of ladder – freestanding, where each ladder has two feet, and leaning, where each ladder has only one foot and the ladders lean neatly against the wall.
The ladders come in wood or metal. Most of the wooden ladders are made of teak and the metal options come in black, gold or white. The ladders also come in a number of different heights and depths, with two depths of shelf available too. Cabinets available include bureaus, cocktail bars, chests of drawers, glass cabinets, record cabinets and single drawer units that can also be used as desks or dressing tables. In addition, some of the, mostly teak, cabinets come with white drawers.
The whole set up breaks down easily when it needs to be moved and is so simple to rebuild. You can also be clever and source spare cabinets, rods, etc to allow you to turn two separate ‘bays’ into a single, larger unit of three bays without adding additional ladders. If you do come across an extra ladder, again, you can make, say, two bays into three by adding the extra ladder and rearranging your existing shelves and cabinets.
The metal ladders can have rust spots and the wooden versions can have chips here and there. Cabinets, too, will mostly show some signs of age, which is only to be expected. The thing about ladderax though is that it’s all about the look and the clever design. These relatively minor imperfections don’t detract from that and buyers seem to readily accept a bit of wear.