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Norman Cherner

American, 1921-1987

Norman Cherner was an influential designer who explored postwar technological innovations and how to incorporate them into furniture production and architecture. And while its history is complicated, his Cherner chair is one of the most successful examples of mid-century modern molded plywood seating.

Born in New York City, Cherner was an architect and a prolific designer who taught at Columbia University’s Teachers College. An enthusiast of the Bauhaus, he gave lectures in the late 1940s on the principles of the legendary German design school at the Museum of Modern Art.

Cherner was fascinated with the concept of cost-efficient design, and this extended into his pioneering ideas for prefabricated housing. His philosophy was that a modular home should be a complete design concept that included economical furniture and lighting. He published several DIY books, such as How to Build a House for $6,000. Cherner caught the interest of a housing cooperative in upstate New York and was contracted to design and oversee the construction of prefabricated housing in the town of Ramapo. The U.S. Department of Housing assembled a pre-built Cherner home for exhibition in Vienna.

But he is best known for his chair.

In the 1950s, one of George Nelson’s designers, John F. Pile, created the Pretzel chair. It had structural problems and proved too costly to make at Herman Miller, where Nelson was director of design. Production was subcontracted to Massachusetts company Plycraft, but the agreement didn’t last long owing to a dispute between the furniture manufacturers. Based on a recommendation from Nelson, Plycraft sought out Cherner to redesign the chair so that it would be durable and affordable to produce.

Cherner submitted his redesign only to be told that Plycraft had shelved the project. However, Plycraft secretly began producing what would become the Cherner chair under a different name — and Cherner later stumbled across his seat in New York. Cherner sued Plycraft and won. The chair became instantly popular after being featured in a Norman Rockwell illustration for a Saturday Evening Post cover in September of 1961.

Other noteworthy Cherner designs include his Konwiser furniture line, Multiflex storage units and tube lighting. The Museum of Modern Art praised his Konwiser collection as “some of the most progressive furniture designs available to the American public.”

In 1972, Plycraft discontinued production of his chair, and Cherner died in 1987. In 1999, his two sons founded the Cherner Chair Company and began making furniture based on their father's original designs for armchairs, chairs — including the Cherner chair — tables and credenzas.

Find vintage Norman Cherner furniture on 1stDibs today.

Average Sold Price
$3,555
Styles
Materials
Related Creators
Norman Cherner Double High Cabinet for Multiflex Corp.
By Multiflex Corp., Norman Cherner
Located in New York, NY
Stacked and fastened "Studio Group" modular units composed of walnut, angled steel, and lacquered masonite. with sliding doors at top and an open compartment at bottom. The “Curtainw...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner

Materials

Steel

Set of 4 Norman Cherner Directional Side Chairs Plycraft
By Norman Cherner, Directional, Plycraft
Located in Fraser, MI
Please feel free to reach out for accurate shipping to your location. Set of 4 Norman Cherner side chairs. Walnut veneer on chrome bases. These chairs have rare Directional labels. ...
Category

1960s Vintage Norman Cherner

Materials

Chrome

Norman Cherner for Plycraft Bentwood chair with Yellow Vinyl cushion 1960s
By Norman Cherner
Located in Ocean Grove, NJ
Really cool Mid-Century Modern designer Norman Cherner for Plycraft Bent plywood chair with Yellow Vinyl (Naugahyde) cushion from the 1960s. This would have originally been used as ...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner

Materials

Naugahyde, Bentwood, Plywood

Norman Cherner for Plycraft Bentwood Swivel Chair with Cream Upholstery
By Plycraft, Norman Cherner
Located in Chicago, IL
Attention Collectors! This architecturally captivating swivel chair designed by the acclaimed Norman Cherner is ideal for those searching for authentic Plycraft pieces from the early...
Category

Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Norman Cherner

Materials

Upholstery, Bentwood

Desk Chair by Norman Cherner in Walnut Chrome Base Black Leather Seat & Back
By Norman Cherner
Located in Bedford Hills, NY
Beautiful Norman Cherner task chair in walnut with arm rests, chrome base, black leather seat and back rest.
Category

21st Century and Contemporary American Mid-Century Modern Norman Cherner

Materials

Chrome

Classic Pair Of Vintage Norman Cherner Plycraft Armchairs c. 1950's
By Plycraft, Norman Cherner
Located in Buffalo, NY
Classic Pair Of Vintage Norman Cherner for Plycraft Pretzel Armchairs c. 1950's... Great early example,, Seat and back reupholstered in a fun pok a dot and stripped black and white f...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner

Materials

Fabric, Plywood

Mid Century Modern Set of 6 Original Norman Cherner Dining Chairs for Plycraft
By Plycraft, Norman Cherner
Located in Port Jervis, NY
Fabulous original set of six Norman Cherner Dining chairs for Plycraft c1955. Totally restored, wood was scrubbed clean and restrained and lacquered. All new upholstery, faux black l...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner

Materials

Faux Leather, Walnut

Norman Cherner for Plycraft, Set of 8 Original Chairs with Labels, Walnut Veneer
By Plycraft, Norman Cherner
Located in Wargrave, Berkshire
Norman Cherner's 1958 'wasp-waisted' moulded plywood chair is an icon of mid-century furniture design. This set of eight original Norman Cherner dining chairs, was made by Plycra...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner

Materials

Walnut, Plywood

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Creators Similar to Norman Cherner

More Norman Cherner Designs
Norman Cherner Chair
Norman Cherner Chair
Average Price
$4,432
Number Available
16
Norman Cherner Chair
By Norman Cherner
Materials
Wood, Walnut
Styles
Mid Century Modern
Boasting clean lines, gentle curves and organic material, 1958’s Cherner chair distinctly embraced the attributes of mid-century modern furniture, even though its author may not have been as prolific or well-known as his contemporaries. New York City architect and designer Norman Cherner (1920–87) was fascinated by the principles of the Bauhaus movement and taught at Columbia University — where he’d previously been a student — and at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. He worked in various areas...
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Norman Cherner furniture for sale on 1stDibs.

Norman Cherner furniture are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive items are frequently made of wood and are designed with extraordinary care. There are many options to choose from in our collection of Norman Cherner furniture, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. We have 33 vintage editions of these items in-stock, while there is 27 modern edition to choose from as well. Many of the original furniture by Norman Cherner were created in the mid-century modern style in north america during the 20th century. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by Russel Wright, Conant Ball, and Chris Earl. Prices for Norman Cherner furniture can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $419 and can go as high as $22,500, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $2,450.

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