Jan 23, 2012
I took a few days this week to view a number of exhibitions that are part of the Pacific Standard Time show in Southern California. The pictured chairs were exhibited in two parts of the PST show: Sam Maloof’s “The House that Sam Built” exhibition at the Huntington Library and Museum, Sam Maloof’s home in Pomona, and the Eames House in Santa Monica.
The two chairs were designed and manufactured within ten years of one another in the Los Angeles area and demonstrate two different approaches to modern design and seating. The Maloof chair (on the left) epitomizes the handmade craft approach, while the Eames chair is an equally beautiful one designed for mass production.
Sam Maloof was an incredible woodworker who spearheaded the resurgence of the Arts and Crafts movement in North America after World War II. Maloof hand crafted every piece of furniture to order for each individual customer. It was inspiring to see his work in person, to tour his home, and to be able to closely inspect and even touch many of the pieces he made.
The chair on the right is an LCW chair (Low, Chair, Wood) designed by Charles and Ray Eames and manufactured by Herman Miller. It was first released in 1946 thanks to experiments in molded plywood that the Eames’ developed for mass producing products during the War. This chair is a quintessential example of design that is optimized for mass production. It is comfortable, attractive, and although many thousands have been produced over the past half century, each one that rolls off the assembly line is as useful and beautiful at the original prototype that still sits in their home.