Probably the most original and influential British furniture designer, manufacturer and retailer of the twentieth century.
Race was educated at St Paul's School, London and studied interior design at the Bartlett School of Architecture, also in London, from 1932 until 1935. He then gained employment as a designer with Troughton & Young of London, the lighting manufacturers, under the direction of A. B. Read, and after studying hand-weaving in India in 1937 founded Race Fabrics, a textile design firm and shop, to put his designs into production.
During the war Race served in the Auxiliary Fire Service in London, after which, in 1945, in partnership with J. W. Noel Jordan he created Ernest Race Ltd. to design and manufacture his unique furniture. Race was director and chief designer of this seminal firm (renamed Race Furniture Ltd. in 1962) which produced minimal, organic designs with economical use of materials.
Seeking a compromise between English traditional and Swedish modern, Race's furniture was characteristically light and easy to handle, with clean lines and thin splayed legs. His BA chair of 1945 and the renowned steel rod 'Antelope' chair for the 1951 Festival of Britain won gold and silver medals respectively at the prestigious 10th Milan Triennale in 1954. These were followed by the 'Flamingo' easy-chair (1959) and the 'Sheppey' settee and chair (1963). The latter was comfortable and ingenious in its design, being assembled from a set of interchangeable, mass-produced components.
In his later years, from 1961 until his death in 1964, Race was a consultant furniture designer for Cintique and Isokon furniture, designing the attractive Penguin Mark 2 Donkey bookcase in 1963.
Race is known principally for his chairs, designed in the Contemporary style after the Second World War