Diamond in the Rough by John Moore

01 March 2013 on Interior Design by John Moore

early bent lanination chair side

This beautiful chair has an amazing story attached to it.

I found this chair in the attic of a dear friend’s garage. It was painted muted green and was stamped U.S. Government 1938. I asked my dear friend about the chair and she said it belonged to her late husband who was a dental captain in the Navy around the time of World War II. He apparently took possession of the chair after the war and it ended up in his garage attic. The chair had been out of circulation for quite some time, evidenced by a thick layer of dust covering this charming bent lamination beauty. I knew that this chair had an exquisite quality hidden under all of that government paint.  The structural design was to die for.

My friend said she had no use for it and offered it to me. I thanked her and weeks later began the process of bringing this pre-war, government issued office chair back to life. I very carefully sanded and stripped all of the wood down to its bare component thus discovering the true magnificence of this office chair. I had the upper portion of the chair painted in gloss blue paint and I oiled the lower portion that consisted of the chair swivel and legs. Lastly I picked out appropriate upholstery that matched the newly revitalized structure.This rejuvenation happened about 10 years ago.

Last summer I met Brindan Byrne, a wonderful furniture designer who teaches at Design Institute San Diego where I was enrolled. I mention the pre-war find  to her and she asked if I would bring the chair into class to show her and her students. I brought the old war horse in and she proceeded to explain to me that the chair was a product of the bent lamination era of the 1930’s and 40’s.

This was a time when furniture was being made in production, prior to the invention of the plastics and fiberglass. Many furniture manufactures were using plywood in the creation of furniture. The plywood was bent using steam and other industrial techniques. The furniture was mass produce for the inexpensive home and commercial markets.

I believe this chair resembles high end mid-century furniture one would find Ray and Charles Eames, or one of the northern European craftsmen of the same era designing and building.

Love this chair