Pieff | Futuristic Furniture Made by Black Country Craftsman

High-end British furniture

Advertising Photography & Graphic Design by Peter Donnelly

Production Facilities Ltd (PFL) was formed by father and son Fred and David Bates in 1954. Based in Lye in the West Midlands, the company mostly manufactured canteen furniture.

Tim Bates, younger brother to David, joined the company in 1966 and began designing luxury furniture. His first collection was launched at the DECOR contract furniture exhibition at Olympia in May 1970 and the company changed its name to Pieff Furniture.

Pieff was the must have name in high-end British furniture during the 1970’s. It described itself at the time as: "Luxury furniture of the late 20th Century, characterised by its original design, flowing lines and usual blending of striking materials. Now used loosely to describe any design which is ahead of its time”.

Tim Bates and his family designed and manufactured some of the most cutting edge, British made, modern pieces. Pieff designs had a touch of Hollywood regency and were made using the most glamorous materials. 

The trademark offering was furniture crafted from mirrored chrome, Brazilian Rosewood, high quality leather and Pirelli webbing.

With a reputation for excellence and seen as fairly exclusive, Pieff Furniture was sold through Harrods, Heals and other high-end furniture stores. 

Unfortunately, the company went into receivership during the height of the industrial recession in May 1983 and the name and goodwill were sold to PEL (Practical Equipment Ltd) of Oldbury.

Much of this information has been kindly supplied by the Bates family who have also created a Pieff Archive website. To find out more about the history of Pieff Furniture from 1953 to 1983, please click on this link.


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The Telegraph

Peter Donnelly's prize-winning essay offers a brilliant example of how local, and often unprepossessing, backgrounds can provide the material for an outstanding colour story. All his photographs were taken within a few miles of his home in Birmingham, Brierley Hill, at Blackheath, Bilston and Cradley Heath. He took them over a period of several months while on weekend walks along the deserted banks of the local canals. "Most evenings I never met a soul," Mr Donnelly recalls. "There was an air of isolation, and often desolation, over the whole scene, and this is what I have tried to capture in my photographs." The camera used was a Pentakon F and the film Agfa and Kodachrome.
by Dr Carl Chinn MBE
Peter Donnelly was born in Birmingham, educated at Corpus Christi junior school, Stechford and later at the holy rosary, Saltley. While at the Holy Rosary he took and passed a drawing examination for Moseley school of art at which he spent several years tuning his artistic talent.

On leaving the art school he joined Birmingham printers, Sam Currier & Son in brook street, St Pauls square, as an apprentice commercial artist. After completing his apprenticeship he left Sam Currier and worked at various printers and advertising agencies gaining valuable experience before starting with his working associate Bob Burns (typographer). Donnelly Burns Graphic Design studio was in Chapel Street, Lye before moving to larger premises in Cradley heath then Harborne.

Before starting the business Peter entered and won the Sunday Telegraph national photographic competition. He submitted an essay of photographs illustrating the demise of the Birmingham and Black Country canals with fellow photographer Norman Fletcher. To Peter and Norman, Midlands photographers and photographic societies seemingly had ignored the once great industrial arena that surrounded their everyday lives.

What an arena! what powerful exiting subjects for the camera; neglected canals, weed and web woven towpaths, old worn out narrow boats – redundant and half submerged in silted murky brown waters; steam trains rattling, hissing and bumping their waggons into line and the rail men who worked the line at that time.

Old foundries, run down factories and scrapyards – the industrial flotsam of a once great manufacturing region. Many six o’clock early morning starts were walked and many miles covered by Peter and his camera.

Now over 60 years later, photographs taken during those early excursions are being published - looking back at the time, long before the surge of change and reconstruction 1962 - 1965