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Norman Cherner Armchairs

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
Mid-Century Modern "Pretzel" Armchair by Norman Cherner for Plycraft
By Norman Cherner, Plycraft
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Mid-Century Modern "Pretzel" armchair by Norman Cherner for Plycraft.
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner Armchairs

Materials

Wood, Birch, Bentwood

Cherner Armchair
By Norman Cherner, The Cherner Chair Company
Located in Berkeley, CA
Originally introduced in 1958, the iconic molded plywood armchair by Norman Cherner is found in collections worldwide. Reissued in exacting detail from the original drawings and mold...
Category

20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Norman Cherner Armchairs

Materials

Walnut

Norman Cherner Armchair
By The Cherner Chair Company, Norman Cherner
Located in Berkeley, CA
Originally introduced in 1958, the iconic molded plywood armchair by Norman Cherner is found in collections worldwide. Reissued in exacting detail from the original drawings and mold...
Category

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

Materials

Walnut

Mid-Century Modern 10 Pretzel Dining Chairs by Norman Cherner for Plycraft
By Plycraft, Norman Cherner
Located in Stamford, CT
Mid-Century Modern Set of 10 Pretzel chairs/Armchairs by Norman Cherner for Plycraft U.S.A. (1920–1987) A pioneer both in molded plywood and prefab housing, Norman Cherner studied...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner Armchairs

Materials

Plywood

Classic Mid Century Pretzel Arm Chair by Norman Cherner for Plycraft
By Norman Cherner, Plycraft
Located in Buffalo, NY
Classic mid century Pretzel arm chair by Norman Cherner for Plycraft: Great original condition, Retains original seat and back padded cushion fabric, Extremely comfortable, Sculptura...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner Armchairs

Materials

Naugahyde, Plywood

Cherner Armchair with Metal Base
By The Cherner Chair Company, Norman Cherner
Located in Berkeley, CA
The 1958 molded plywood stacking chairs by Norman Cherner are perfect for home, office or cafe. The seat is made of laminated plywood of graduated thickness, from 15 plys to 5 plys a...
Category

20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Norman Cherner Armchairs

Materials

Walnut

Norman Cherner Rare Prototype Armchair for Plycraft
By Norman Cherner
Located in LAGUNA BEACH, CA
Rare Norman Cherner prototype armchair for Plycraft.
Category

1960s American Vintage Norman Cherner Armchairs

Materials

Rosewood

Norman Cherner Plycraft Pretzel Armchairs
By Norman Cherner, Plycraft
Located in Palm Springs, CA
A pair of pretzel armchairs designed by Norman Cherner for Plycraft. These chairs likely date from the 1960’s. Black vinyl cushions. Wood is in good condition with age marks and wear...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner Armchairs

Materials

Bentwood

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Norman Cherner armchairs for sale on 1stDibs

Norman Cherner armchairs are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive objects are often made of wood and designed with extraordinary care. There are many options in our Norman Cherner armchair collection, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. In stock we have 3 vintage editions of these items, while there is also 3 modern editions to choose from. Many of Norman Cherner's original armchairs were created in Mid-Century Modern style in North America during the mid-20th century. Many customers also consider armchairs by Gunlocke, Kipp Stewart and Plycraft if you’re looking for additional options. Prices for Norman Cherner armchairs can vary depending on size, time period and other attributes. The price for these items starts at $1,079 and tops out at $12,000, while pieces like these can sell for $1,815 on average.

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