Cherrill Scheer, a much-admired liveryman and founding member of our Design Guild Mark, sadly passed away last week. Thank you to Theresa Dowling, one of Cherrill’s friends, who has written this wonderful tribute.
Cherrill Scheer was born in to the Hille family furniture manufacturing company that became a global sensation in post-war design and she drove Hille’s marketing until the business was sold in the mid 1980s. As one of two daughters of Mrs Ray Hille, she was the group marketing director, and Cherry presided over the launch and immense market success of the Poly Chair. Designed by the Robin Day, one of the most influential post-war British designers, the Poly Chair was launched in 1963. Since then some 14 million chairs have been sold and variants of the Poly continue to be sold at a rate of 500,000 units a year. And it was Cherry who launched the product, identifying potential buyers, organising publicity and sending out hundreds of samples to specifiers and architects both in government and the private sector. It was an astounding success. Robin Day’s product design success was quickly followed by the Fred Scott Supporto chair which wowed the early 1980’s architecture and design market. This was consolidated by the Hille exhibition at the V & A museum in 1981 which triumphed their journey from a repro factory in the post-war East End to the world’s leading contemporary furniture manufacturer.
Their Watford offices were designed by Erno Goldfinger, and the company feted the most prestigious architects and designers, for which Cherry was at home greeting Edward Paolozzi, Enzo Apicella, and Althea McNish, all of whom became firm friends. That’s not to mention friendly with Richard Rogers, Terence Conran, Norman Foster, and the other greats of the era.
From 1991, Cherry founded and led a small but highly effective public relations and marketing consultancy, Cherrill Scheer and Associates, specialising in contract furniture, architecture and interior design. A highly-regarded advisor with huge inside knowledge of the furniture industry, Cherry travelled all over the world to promote the work of her clients and remained at the helm of the company until shortly before her death.
Cherry’s work for the cause of modern design has been publicly recognised in many ways, including fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts and the Chartered Society of Designers, together with awards from the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers and many others.
Cherrill being awarded our Stanley Wharton Prize for her oustanding contribution to the industry by Past Master David Woodward
I worked as Cherry’s assistant at Hille throughout the 1980s and came to know how influential she was in business and the design industry. Focussed, ambitious and always professional, she was a mighty force to be reckoned with. Her diminutive stature belied her power and intellect. And as for her voice, she could often be heard before being seen! A case of stand-by your beds when Cherry was approaching and there was certainly no swearing or slouching! Woe-betide you if you weren’t as prepared or as organised as she was. A withering look would tell you where you’d gone wrong. That’s all it took. No shouting, no cross words, just a look – and you never were unprepared again.
But it was her terrific energy that we all recognised as a benevolent power for good in meetings with top architects, or steering her company to ever-greater success. Cherry was a tornado of energy. Restless and energetic she would work all hours to deliver success. And even then, she’d still not rest!
Cherry had a passion for colour and art, and her colourful dress-sense was matched only by her passion for life. Never seen in dull corporate colours around the office, she would dress in fabulous purple and turquoise.
Cherrill was a devoted supporter and founding member of the Design Guild Mark
She pursued colour in art too with her tireless visits to artists talks, studios and contemporary art, up and down the country, when most of us were too tired, or downtrodden by life and work. She made time for the extraordinary.
Life for all of us in the design industry will be less colourful without Cherry. But crikey what a gift, what a legacy and what a great contributor she has been to British and international design.
Cherry died unexpectedly on 3 February 2024 and is survived by her husband Ian of over 60 years, and her children Danielle and Ivan, and grandchildren Desi, Bobby, Sam and Isaac