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August 28, 2012

Rockwell and Cherner. (Or how a commercial illustrator created a mid-century icon.)



It’s not often that a visual artist transforms the career of a furniture designer – and that’s only part of what makes Norman Cherner’s story remarkable.

In 1952, George Nelson (yes, that George Nelson, of Herman Miller® design director fame) designed the Pretzel Chair, which was, briefly, manufactured by Massachusetts-based Plycraft. It soon became clear that the Pretzel was too difficult to reliably produce on a mass scale and the company abandoned the project. But in 1957 they asked Norman Cherner – then known mostly for his pre-fab housing – to create something similar, using the same bentwood technology as the Pretzel. The result was the Cherner Armchair, with its thin waist and wide arms. And then things go sketchy: After delivering the design to the Paul Goldman, the head of Plycraft, Goldman told him the project was cancelled and production wouldn’t happen. But it did. Goldman continued to produce Cherner’s design, attributing the design to a certain “Bernardo,” undeniably a fabrication.

Understandably, Cherner was rather shocked to discover his design sitting in a showroom in New York. He sued Goldman in 1961, winning the case and receiving royalties. That same year, illustrator to the masses, Norman Rockwell, pictured the Cherner Armchair in his September 1961 cover of the Saturday Evening Post, in an illustration called “The Artist at Work” (above). This was all it took to catapult Cherner into the design spotlight, as demand for the Cherner Armchair soared. It’s an interesting example of how accessible modernism used to be – at the time, the Cherner Chair sold for $50 to $60. The work of someone like Norman Rockwell, whose art expressed pure, unadulterated mass appeal, was entirely of a piece with many of the tenets of modernism. Functional, commercial, accessible, mass produced – these things defined both modern design at that time and Rockwell’s illustrations.

Despite the success of the chair it went out of production in 1972. In 1999, Cherner’s sons, Benjamin and Thomas, launched the Cherner Chair Company to bring their father’s iconic work back into production. To learn more about Norman Cherner’s life and see the Cherner Collection (which is on sale during the Dining Sale), click here.

Posted by Emily Fasten.

August 24, 2012

A Glass of Wine, a Weekly Ritual and a Signature Dish: How CA Home+Design magazine’s Executive Editor Erin Feher Dines and Entertains.


(Above: Erin Feher)

As our Pinterest contest “Set the Modern Table” with California Home+Design magazine wraps up, we sat down with Executive Editor Erin Feher to find out how she entertains and discovered why artichokes are the perfect way to break the ice.


DWR: What is the most creative space you've dined in?

Erin Feher: The old hacienda on the property of Scribe Winery, in a dining room decked out by designer and farm-punk goddess Erin Martin. We all sat around a beautiful custom table, and the crumbling walls were hung with eye-popping artwork –scrolls of nudes altered with electrical tape. 

DWR: Sunday brunch or weeknight dinner party? Which do you prefer and why?

EF: Weeknight dinner party for sure. It gives me something to scheme about during the day, and after a cocktail or two and a few hours of great conversation with friends, you could fool me into thinking it's actually a weekend. I know people rarely believe women who say this, but after a day of typing and phone calls and emails, chopping is completely meditative and relaxing – especially accompanied by a glass of wine. 

Continue reading "A Glass of Wine, a Weekly Ritual and a Signature Dish: How CA Home+Design magazine’s Executive Editor Erin Feher Dines and Entertains." »

August 16, 2012

As seen in today's New York Times.

Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 11.23.54 AM
Sara Story took the New York Times on a shopping spree in search of light fixtures. "Ms. Story, 40, an interior designer in Manhattan, likened a chandelier to 'a piece of sculpture or jewelry' for a room," writes Tim McKeough, "that also happens to provide illumination and ambience." Ms. Story visited the DWR Studio in SoHo, where she picked out our Modo 10-Globe Chandelier designed by Jason Miller for Roll & Hill. "It's edgy and chic," she said. We couldn't agree more.

Screen shot 2012-08-16 at 11.27.33 AM

August 13, 2012

Spotted in Our August Catalog: Swissted Posters.

Above: Gorilla Biscuits is featured on page 7 of our August catalog.

As the owner of Stereotype Design – a New York City-based graphic design studio that develops projects for commercial, cultural and corporate clients – Mike Joyce is postering the walls of modern homes with music history. By branding bands with new personas, his Swissted Poster Project is both renewing public interest in seminal music acts and documenting the roots of today's most pervasive genre: indie rock.

"The project has a fiendishly simple premise: Joyce combs through flyers of old-school punk, hardcore, and indie rock shows, retains the vital info, and uses that text to create Swiss Modernist-style posters that often incorporate geometric patterns," says Reyan Ali of the The Village Voice. Joyce says his posters reflect "his love of punk rock and Swiss Modernism, two movements that have (almost) nothing to do with one another." And while this may be true on the surface, judging by his overwhelming success, perhaps it's in their relative obscurity that commonality exists.

Continue reading "Spotted in Our August Catalog: Swissted Posters." »

August 06, 2012

Happy Birthday Andy!

In celebration of what would have been Andy Warhol's 84th birthday, we're reposting an interview we did last year with Arthur Edelman, who happened to be the artist's first boss.

The Andy Warhol Experience
Originally published December 12, 2011 

Screen shot 2011-12-12 at 1.03.05 PM

Not long after arriving in New York City in 1953, a young artist named Andy Warhol began to make his way in the world of commercial illustration. Edelman Leather was one of Warhol’s first clients and over the course of several years he worked closely with owners Arthur and Teddy Edelman, producing everything from advertisements to showrooms. Their relationship culminated in a coloring book that could have only come from the mind of Warhol, created especially for clients' children for Christmas in 1961. Now back in print, A Coloring Book: Drawings by Andy Warhol (1961/2011) will amuse and charm a new audience, both young and old.

We recently had opportunity to speak with the Edelmans (if the name sounds familiar it's because they're our CEO's parents) about Warhol and what is was like working with the young commercial illustrator who would go on to become the most famous pop art artist in the world.

DWR: Describe the first time you saw Andy Warhol.

Continue reading "Happy Birthday Andy!" »