Monday, March 22, 2010
That's MISTER CHAIR to you
There's a lot of internet bellyaching and ballyhoo-ing about Mid Century furniture fakes versus knock-offs, and man can some purists get mighty prickly about fiberglass versus plasic, veneer quality, the holy refinement of the "original" and the "less refined" repros, etc.
Really, some of the best persuasive academic writing I've ever read has been on discussion boards dedicated to the subject. Which is possibly a misuse of talent.
Plycraft infamously knocked-off the Eames lounge, but who cares? They're both extremely comfortable and, in my book, slightly fugly. I have some friends who just picked up a Plycraft version from Craigslist and they were sort of apologizing for it. I think it's great that people who like the style can get it without living off ramen for a year. But not everything Plycraft produced was a knock-off.
Enter Mr. Chair. It was designed by George Mulhauser, who first worked for George Nelson and is credited with the design for the uber-rare and collectible coconut chair. Is it an upholstered lounge with a bent-ply back? Yep. Doesn't make it a knock-off. I actually (GASP!) prefer the two-piece wood body of the Mulhauser design over the five-piece Eames. It looks much more sculptural to me. The untufted upholstery seems more graceful and the bentwood starburst base less industrial.
One more benefit of the Mulhauser design? It wasn't produced for very long, and never went into reproduction. It's a rare and beautiful original design and a fabulous, comfortable piece of furniture. Frankly I think it deserves to step out of the shadow cast by the Eames lounge to have its own place in American Mid Century design .