When Zeev Aram opened his first showroom in 1964, a small, white space on London's Kings Road, he might as well have landed on the moon.
At the time, he recalls, you could buy the odd piece of Eames but generally, the UK was a modern furniture desert. And here was the work of Castiglioni, Breuer, and Le Corbusier, for the first time available to the public to buy and put in their own homes. Looking into that tiny showroom with its open slot cut into the window for mail, was like looking into the future. Zeev would stand outside, listening to the comments of passers-by as they stopped and stared through the glass at the bright, white, stainless steel interior. Most were incredulous. "Who needs this rubbish?" they asked. They called it clinical, and wondered why anyone would want to buy 'hospital furniture'. For 33 year-old Zeev, it was a dream come true. "The important thing is that there was a reaction," he says. "I was afraid people would just walk past." People thought the showroom and its modern furniture were an affront. He even began receiving hate mail. A few months later, Terence Conran opened Habitat further down the road; for the first time, the British consumer had an alternative to chintz. Mary Quant and her mini skirt wasn't the only revolution happening in Chelsea that year.