The Cherner Chair Story

The Cherner Chair… one of my first Mid-Century Modern (MCM) loves. Everything about it makes me stop and gaze.

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But did you know there was controversy behind this one, too?

The story actually makes me feel protective of the Cherner Chair…

If you see this chair identified as Plycraft’s Rockwell chair, that’s because of this Norman Rockwell illustration.

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Which was featured on the front page of the Saturday Evening Post, September 1961.

The painting is not the problem. In fact, it’s kind of fun… but then that’s the nature of Rockwell’s work. No, it’s the fact that the Cherner Chair is sometimes referred to as the Plycraft Chair.

Without getting into the long details (read them here), the short version is that Norman Cherner had been hired by Plycraft’s Paul Goldman to design a sturdier version of George Nelson and team’s Pretzel Chair. It was Nelson’s recommendation that Cherner and Goldman collaborate…

When Cherner presented Goldman with his design he was told the project was scrapped. Lo and behold, six months later, Cherner saw the chair on a showroom floor for sale! The label indicated the chair was from Plycraft with the design attributed to “Bernardo”. Cherner sued Plycraft and won… And, Goldman admitted that Bernardo was a fictitious name. Seriously!

In the end Plycraft was still legally allowed to produce the Cherner Chair, but had to pay Cherner royalties and give him proper credit. If you see the Cherner Chair identified as the Plycraft Chair, or the Plycraft Rockwell Chair, this is how that came to be… but not the way it needs to be.

Isn’t this a great space?

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There’s always a story behind every piece!

But here’s another story that’s a bit more amusing, and certainly illustrates a stroke of luck.

Notice the Cherner Chairs?

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Well they were found sitting beside a dumpster by this gentleman, Chris Gulley. Yes, that’s right. A dumpster! Can you imagine? And they have been verified as authentic 1958 Cherner Chairs. And just to put perspective on the dollar value of this lucky discovery, a Cherner reproduction is worth upwards of $1000. So an authentic Cherner… well, you do the math!

Unmistakable, shapely, and innovative…

Do you see the Cherner chair a little differently now?

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Isn’t it amazing how powerful a story can be? Thank you Norman Cherner for such a gorgeous design!

 Thanks for stopping by!

Photograph source linked below each photograph.

9 Replies to “The Cherner Chair Story”

  1. It’s a piece of art and so curvaceous!!! I love reading about furniture and its designs. Thank you, Sheila for always make the best posts about it!

    By the way, I’m sorry I’m missing some of your posts lately. But I’m trying to spend very little time in front of the computer. I have too much pain if I stay here for too long (braxton hicks are getting pretty strong at this point). So, I’m trying to take it easy now, since there’s only 4 weeks to go. 🙂 Oh, and thank you so much for your comment the other day. It made me feel so happy!

    Wishing you a blessed weekend.

    xo

    Luciane at HomeBunch.com

  2. I’ve always admired this chair and now I know a little fun story behind it. IN THE TRASH?? Oh what I would give to find this chair in the trash. Thanks for the great history on this. My daughter’s name is Sheila too 🙂

  3. Well, actually these could have been my chairs next to the dumpster!!! You see, I bought these (4) from Maurice Villency in New York in about 1960. I used them for dining. When I became divorced several years later I hated those chairs and threw them out in the rain. I paid about 100 dollars for each back in the day. They were really not comfortable, but beautiful, and I am glad they are around all these years later.

    1. Awww, well I get it! Beautiful chairs or not, if they harness negative energy then they have to go. At least that’s how I feel about it. I just hope someone picked them up before they hung out in the rain for too long! 😉

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