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 READING!