Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Honoring the Greats: Milo Baughman

For the third installment of my "Honoring the Greats" series, I am spotlighting furniture designer Milo Baughman.  Baughman was a modernist who forever changed the landscape of design by creating pieces with sleek, sultry details.  He believed above all else that good design meant it stood the test of time.  It wasn't too trendy or frivolous, but classic and unpretentious.

Milo grew up in Long Beach, California and studied product and architectural design at the Art Center School of Los Angeles and at Chouinard Art Institute (which later became the California Institute of the Arts).  He also served in the army during World War II, during which time he was active in designing officer's clubs.  After returning from war and completing his studies, Milo worked for a modern furniture store and then went on to establish "Milo Baughman Design, Inc" in 1947.  He designed furniture using walnut, Formica, and iron which exudued a distinctive Los Angeles style.

Drexel invited Baughman to their North Carolina headquarters in the late 1940s to create a major collection of furniture.  He then went on to run a custom design shop with his wife at the time, Olga, from 1951-1953.  Beginning in 1953, Baughman began collaborating with furniture manufacturer Thayer Coggin.  By the 1960s and 1970s, his new collection was eagerly awaited at the High Point Market each year.  Some of his most iconic pieces came from this period, such as the 951-103 chair, the 820-400 chaise, and the 989-103 lounge chair (also referred to as the t-back chair):

 I wanted to featured Baughman today because I continue to see reproductions of his classic pieces pop up all over Etsy, 1st Dibs, and my favorite mid-century antique stores.  I even wrote a post before lusting after his chair designs. They are also often sprinkled amongst interiors featured in magazines and online home tours.

 While many of his chair designs are enlivened by such effects as tufted upholstery, Baughman tended to let his materials carry the aesthetic weight, frequently relying on chair and table frames made of sturdy and sleek flat-bar chromed metal, and tables and cabinets finished with highly-figured wood veneers. The fact that Milo's design work is STILL sought after over a half century later shows that he did indeed accomplish his goal of classic, timeless design.


Nate Berkus used Milo's classic t-back chair design in this lovely NY apartment:

"When I left Art Center, I thought Modern design would change the world. Now, I no longer have such lofty hopes, but perhaps the world is just a bit better off because of it. In any event, good Modern has already proven to be the most enduring, timeless and classic of all design movements." - Milo Baughman

View previous "Honoring the Greats" posts:

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