The Cherner Armchair, introduced in 1958 by architect Norman Cherner, was immediately recognized as revolutionary. The look of its curved arms and shapes suggest long female tresses and plant forms derived from Art Nouveau style as well as the stylized organic quality of Mid-Century Modern design.
The dramatic sculptural quality of the chair is a prime example of what can be done with the bending and curving of molded plywood.
The Cherner chair also was influenced by, or a reaction to, George Nelson’s Pretzel chair introduced in 1952, but was sturdier and less costly to produce.
In that post-war baby boom era new materials and technologies developed during the war helped design shake free of tradition. The result was increasingly abstract and sculptural aesthetics, as well as lower prices for mass-produced objects.
Cherner designed the chair for manufacturer Plycraft. The company told him the project had been scrapped. However, they did produce the chair and sold it under their own name. Soon the chair appeared in Norman Rockwell’s 1961 painting “Artist at Work,” as the cover of the Saturday Evening Post magazine. Cherner sued Plycraft and won royalties and credit for his design. When Plycraft ceased operations in the 1970s, the chair disappeared from the market until 1999 when Cherner’s two sons recovered their father’s designs and founded the Cherner Chair Company, which continues to produce his designs.
Norman Cherner, born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1920, died at the age of 67 in 1987. Cherner studied and taught at Columbia’s Fine Arts department and later taught at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Educated in the Bauhaus tradition, Cherner was a strong proponent of the movement’s principle that form follows function, and he practiced interdisciplinary design work from pre-fabricated houses to furniture to toys and home décor.
Cherner Arm Chair | c.1952
Original: Plycraft | USA
Current: Cherner Chair | USA
Dimensions: 26.5″W x 21″D x 31.5″H
Material: Moulded Plywood