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Woodard Bradford

Woodard Bradford Collection Spring High Back Wrought Iron Patio Chairs, a Pair
By Russell Woodard
Located in Philadelphia, PA
Woodard Bradford Collection Coil Spring high back wrought iron Patio garden dining chairs - a pair
Category

20th Century North American Modern Dining Room Chairs

Materials

Wrought Iron

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Russell Woodard for sale on 1stDibs

Woodard Furniture Company’s diverse offerings have included everything from pine caskets to premium patio and garden furniture over the years.

Lyman E. Woodward founded the family business Woodard Brothers (he dropped the second w for his venture’s name), later Woodard Furniture Co., in Owosso, Michigan, in 1866. Woodard Furniture produced wood furniture such as birch and oak bedroom pieces, window and door blinds and even pine caskets. Demand for the latter increased during the spread of the Spanish flu in America, and Woodard’s casket business — a new company called Owosso Casket Company — thrived, becoming the largest casket manufacturer in the world throughout the 1920s. Two U.S. presidents, William McKinley and Benjamin Harrison, were buried in Owosso caskets.

On the furniture side, Lyman’s son Lee Woodard spun off his own business as Lee L. Woodard and Sons, opening a shop with his sons, Joseph, Lyman II and Russell Woodard. During the 1930s, the new company explored the use of metal in furniture-making and introduced a wrought-iron set of patio dining furniture featuring ornate grillwork inspired by French design called Orleans in 1940. The line became a best seller and kick-started the company’s international reputation as a patio-furniture maker, even as the Woodard factory subsequently shifted toward supporting the wartime efforts in manufacturing parts for trucks and military equipment. After World War II, the business returned to making furniture. Over the years, Woodard and Sons would go on to master metallurgy in furniture making, developing expertise in wrought iron, cast aluminum and tubular aluminum for both indoor and outdoor pieces. In colder regions, wrought iron, which can be left outdoors all year round, was the material of choice in outdoor furniture designs for the Atomic Age, and vintage Woodard outdoor furniture is widely coveted by collectors today.

While the business started with more traditional styles of furnishings, the company would go on to embrace mid-century modernism. In fact, one of Woodard’s most famous pieces is 1956’s Sculptura chair, variously credited over the years to Russell and/or Joseph. The Sculptura was reportedly the first sculpted chair made without molds. Not unlike Harry Bertoia’s elegant steel-wire Side chair (also a mid-century darling) in its undulating form, the Sculptura chair, which is composed entirely of enameled woven wrought-iron wire, bears similarity to Eero Saarinen’s Womb chair for Knoll and Charles and Ray Eames’s DAX chair. The beloved Woodard chair was added to the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum’s permanent collection in 1994.

While the Woodard business is no longer in family hands, the company continues to produce fine patio furniture today and even reintroduced the Sculptura chair in 2015 as nostalgia for mid-century modernism gained steam again. 

On 1stDibs, find vintage Russell Woodard lounge chairs, dining chairs and patio furniture today.

A Close Look at modern Furniture

The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw sweeping social change and major scientific advances — both of which contributed to a new aesthetic: modernism. Rejecting the rigidity of Victorian artistic conventions, modernists sought a new means of expression. References to the natural world and ornate classical embellishments gave way to the sleek simplicity of the Machine Age. Architect Philip Johnson characterized the hallmarks of modernism as “machine-like simplicity, smoothness or surface [and] avoidance of ornament.”

Early practitioners of modernist design include the De Stijl (“The Style”) group, founded in the Netherlands in 1917, and the Bauhaus School, founded two years later in Germany.

Followers of both groups produced sleek, spare designs — many of which became icons of daily life in the 20th century. The modernists rejected both natural and historical references and relied primarily on industrial materials such as metal, glass, plywood, and, later, plastics. While Bauhaus principals Marcel Breuer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe created furniture from mass-produced, chrome-plated steel, American visionaries like Charles and Ray Eames worked in materials as novel as molded plywood and fiberglass. Today, Breuer’s Wassily chair, Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona chaircrafted with his romantic partner, designer Lilly Reich — and the Eames lounge chair are emblems of progressive design and vintage originals are prized cornerstones of collections.

It’s difficult to overstate the influence that modernism continues to wield over designers and architects — and equally difficult to overstate how revolutionary it was when it first appeared a century ago. But because modernist furniture designs are so simple, they can blend in seamlessly with just about any type of décor. Don’t overlook them.

Finding the Right dining-room-chairs for You

No matter what your dream dining experience looks like, there is a wide-ranging variety of vintage, new and antique dining room chairs on 1stDibs. Find upholstered dining room chairs, wood dining room chairs and more to outfit any space designated for a good meal, be it in your home or in the great outdoors.

In the early 18th century, most dining room tables and other furniture was designed to look masculine. In America, dining rooms weren’t even much of a concept until the late 1700s, when a space set aside specifically for dining became a part of the construction of homes for the wealthy. Dining room chairs of the era were likely made of walnut or oak. In Europe, neoclassical dining chairs emerged during the 1750s owing to nostalgia for classical antiquity, while the curving chair crests of Queen Anne furniture in the United States preceded the artistically bold seat backs that characterized the Chippendale chairs that followed. If there weren't enough dining chairs at suppertime in the American colonies, men were prioritized and women stood.

In the dining rooms of today, however, there is enough space for everyone to have a seat at the table. Modern styles introduce innovative design choices that play with shape and style. Icons of mid-century modern dining room chairs are plentiful: With its distinctive bentwood back, there is the DCW dining chair by Charles and Ray Eames, while Hans Wegner's timeless classic, the Wishbone chair, remains relevant and elegant decades after its debut. Stefano Giovannoni's White Rabbit dining chairs, in their lovable polyethylene biomorphism, reinvent what dining can look like.

Today's wide range of dining room chairs also means that they can now be styled in different ways, bringing functionality and fun to any sumptuous dining space. No longer do tables have to be accompanied by a matching set of seats. Skillfully mixing and matching colors and designs allows you to showcase your personality without sacrificing the cohesion of a given space.

By furnishing your dining room with cozy chairs — vintage, antique or otherwise — family time can extend far beyond mealtime. The plush upholstery of Victorian-style dining room chairs is perfect for game nights that stretch from dinner to midnight snack. Outdoor tables and dining chairs can also present an excellent opportunity for bonding and eating — what goes better with a delicious meal than fresh air, anyway?

Whether you prefer your chairs streamlined and stackable or ornate and one of a kind, the offerings on 1stDibs will elevate your mealtime and beyond.