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Norman Cherner Furniture

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.

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Creator: Norman Cherner
Dealer: Weinberg Modern
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 Furniture

Materials

Steel

Norman Cherner Chest of Drawers for Multiflex Corp
By Norman Cherner, Multiflex Corp.
Located in New York, NY
Modular nine-drawer "Studio Group" chest composed of walnut with a white micarta top, lacquered masonite drawer bottoms and angle-steel pulls and frame. The “Curtainwall” principle applied to furniture, allowing easy extension in either a vertical or horizontal direction. An elegant riff on the Eames ESU, designed by Norman Cherner (along with Matthew Cooper) and manufactured by the Multiflex Corp circa 1954. The present unit has three banks of three drawers; the full-length angled steel pulls contribute to the overall graphic scheme of contrasting stripes. The Studio Group was featured in George Nelson’s Storage book and was a MoMA Good Design selection in 1954. The frame, which disassembles to a large degree, is held together with brass buttons. Cherner famously designed the narrow-waisted Plycraft armchair along with an award-winning furniture line for Konwiser and was the author of the 1953 book Make Your Own Modern Furniture. Along with a sliding door cabinet and a double-tall unit...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner Furniture

Materials

Steel

Norman Cherner Cabinet for Multiflex Corp.
By Norman Cherner, Multiflex Corp.
Located in New York, NY
Modular "Studio Group" cabinet composed of walnut with a white micarta top, lacquered masonite doors and panels, and angle-steel pulls and frame. The “Curtainwall” principle applied to furniture, allowing easy extension in either a vertical or horizontal direction. An elegant riff on the Eames ESU, designed by Norman Cherner (along with Matthew Cooper) and manufactured by the Multiflex Corp circa 1954. The Studio Group was featured in George Nelson’s Storage book and was a MoMA Good Design selection in 1954. The present unit has two sliding door cabinets flanking a bank of three drawers. Behind each pair of sliding doors is a black masonite bottom and white masonite back. The frame, which disassembles to a large degree, is held together with brass buttons that are optionally visible on the outside (MoMA preferred visibility as expressive and suitable to the piece). Cherner famously designed the narrow-waisted Plycraft armchair along with an award-winning furniture line for Konwiser and was the author of the 1953 book Make Your Own Modern Furniture. Along with a nine drawer chest of drawers and a double-tall unit...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner Furniture

Materials

Steel

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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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