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Norman Cherner Chairs

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
Norman Cherner Bar Stools
By Norman Cherner
Located in Fort Lauderdale, FL
Stylish Norman Cherner bar chairs. These hand crafted chairs are individually signed and numbered by the makers from the world renowned company. American Natural Walnut veneer up...
Category

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

Materials

Wood, Walnut, Faux Leather

Vintage Sculptural "Pretzel" Dining Chairs by Norman Cherner for Plycraft
By Plycraft, Norman Cherner
Located in Burbank, CA
Stunning vintage sculptural "Pretzel" dining chairs designed by Norman Cherner for Plycraft in the United States, circa 1960s. This incredible design utilizes a molded plywood frame ...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner Chairs

Materials

Walnut

Vintage Norman Cherner Swiveling Bar Stools for Plycraft
By Norman Cherner
Located in Cincinnati, OH
A pair of rare swiveling sculptural molded dark walnut bar stools with black leatherette upholstery on the seat back and bottom. A sculptural look with black metal foot rests and det...
Category

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

Materials

Upholstery, Walnut

Iconic Mid Century Cherner Plycraft Bent Ply Chair
By Norman Cherner, Plycraft
Located in New York, NY
Iconic Mid Century bent plywood chair designed by Norman Cherner for Plycraft with original Plycraft label, dated 1964. This example is in very good, original condition, showing only...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner Chairs

Materials

Upholstery, Plywood

Norman Cherner "Pretzel" Chair for Plycraft
By Plycraft, Norman Cherner
Located in Burbank, CA
Amazing vintage "Pretzel" chair designed by Norman Cherner for Plycraft in the United States, circa 1960s. This incredible design utilizes a molded plywood frame that provides a slee...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner Chairs

Materials

Walnut

Norman Cherner Pair of Plycraft Pretzel Chairs
By Norman Cherner
Located in Phoenix, AZ
Pair of Norman Cherner for Plycraft pretzel arm chairs circa early 1960's. Newly and impeccably refinished. Price listed is for the pair.
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner Chairs

Materials

Walnut

Plycraft Chairs by Norman Cherner
By Norman Cherner
Located in Van Nuys, CA
This is a set of 4 colorful chairs designed by Norman Cherner for Plycraft. Each chair is painted in its own unique color: red, green, blue, and yellow. They all have white cushions ...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner Chairs

Materials

Wood

Mid-Century Modern Norman Cherner Walnut Plycraft Chairs, Pair
By Norman Cherner
Located in West Hartford, CT
Sculptural pair of Norman Cherner Plycraft chairs made from steam form bent walnut, circa 1950's. Unique, original, iconic and coveted. Own the best.
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Norman Cherner Chairs

Materials

Walnut, Plywood

Set of Norman Cherner Pretzel Dining Chairs, Made by Plycraft, USA, 1960s
By Plycraft, Norman Cherner
Located in London, GB
A set of four original Norman Cherner pretzel dining chairs, made by Plycraft, USA, in the 1960s. Bentwood frames. Priced for the set. In very good original vintage condition. Ships ...
Category

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

Materials

Wood

Norman Cherner Plycraft Chair Upholstered in Cowhide and Painted
By Plycraft, Norman Cherner
Located in Miami, FL
Norman Cherner Plycraft chair Upholstered in Cowhide and painted Offered for sale is a painted bentwood and laminated wood chair designed by Norman Cherner for Plycraft Furniture ...
Category

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

Materials

Cowhide, Wood

Cherner Task Chair with Arms
By Norman Cherner, The Cherner Chair Company
Located in Berkeley, CA
The 1958 molded plywood task chair by Norman Cherner is now available to a new generation of furniture collectors. A strong, lightweight and graceful addition to the home or office. ...
Category

20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Norman Cherner Chairs

Materials

Walnut

Cherner Task Chair
By Norman Cherner, The Cherner Chair Company
Located in Berkeley, CA
The 1958 molded plywood task chair by Norman Cherner is now available to a new generation of furniture collectors. A strong, lightweight and graceful addition to the home or office. ...
Category

20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Norman Cherner Chairs

Materials

Walnut

Cherner Task Chair
By Norman Cherner, The Cherner Chair Company
Located in Berkeley, CA
The 1958 molded plywood task chair by Norman Cherner is now available to a new generation of furniture collectors. A strong, lightweight and graceful addition to the home or office. ...
Category

20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Norman Cherner Chairs

Materials

Walnut

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Norman Cherner chairs for sale on 1stDibs

Norman Cherner chairs are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive objects are often made of wood and designed with extraordinary care. In our Norman Cherner collection, there are many options to choose from, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. In stock we have 8 vintage editions of these items, while there is also 3 modern editions to choose from. Many of Norman Cherner's original chairs were created in Mid-Century Modern style in the United States during the mid-20th century. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider chairs by Arthur Umanoff, Plycraft and Ward Bennett. The prices for Norman Cherner chairs can vary depending on size, time period and other attributes. Price for these items starts at $595 and tops out at $12,127, while pieces like these can sell for $2,800 on average.

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