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Plycraft

While the history of Plycraft is marred by scandal and lawsuits, the American furniture manufacturer produced charming lounge chairs and other seating during the mid-century modern era that are sought after by collectors today.

Paul Goldman founded Plycraft in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1953 — he had secured military contracts for the manufacturing of bentwood products during World War II and was able to move into the commercial market thereafter. While Plycraft counted fiberglass boats among its early offerings, its primary focus switched to furniture when what we now call mid-century modernism hit its stride and more designers began to explore the possibilities of bentwood furniture thanks to the revolutionary work of Alvar Aalto and Michael Thonet. Goldman was Plycraft’s principal designer, but George Mulhauser and Norman Cherner were also enlisted to create furniture for the brand.

In 1952, a designer named John F. Pile, who was working in the studio of Herman Miller design director George Nelson, conceived what he called the Pretzel chair in walnut and birch. Pile’s seat, which was inspired by European modernist design, proved too costly to manufacture and it had structural problems. So the illustrious Michigan furniture maker subcontracted Plycraft to produce the Pretzel chair — an agreement that was short-lived owing to a dispute between Plycraft and Herman Miller.

Goldman subsequently tapped Norman Cherner — an innovative architect, designer and professor at Columbia University who was recommended by Nelson — to create an iteration of the Pretzel chair that would be stronger and cost-efficient to manufacture.

Cherner submitted a comfortable, curvaceous update to the Pretzel chair in molded plywood but was told by Plycraft that the project was being scrapped and his drawings shelved. Months later, Cherner was shocked to stumble upon his redesigned chair in a furniture showroom in New York under the Plycraft name. Cherner sued Plycraft and won — the Cherner chair later appeared in a Norman Rockwell painting on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.

In the late 1950s, designer George Mulhauser created the Mr. Chair for Plycraft, an adjustable, tilting, swivel armchair with a matching ottoman. Mulhauser was also a designer in George Nelson’s studio and is credited with having conceived the iconic Coconut lounge chair for Herman Miller. With its tufted leather seat and shell crafted from a single sheet of plywood, the Mr. Chair lounge — part of a line of seating for which Mulhauser was commissioned — bears a resemblance to the now-legendary Eames lounge chair, which was designed by Ray and Charles Eames for Herman Miller. Mulhauser’s chair was very successful for Plycraft. A model was even spotted on an episode of Star Trek.

On 1stDibs, find vintage Plycraft seating, tables and more.

Average Sold Price
$2,304
Styles
Materials
Related Creators
Set of 6 Norman Cherner Dining Chairs, Made by Plycraft, USA, 1963. 2 Arm Chairs
By Norman Cherner, Plycraft
Located in Buffalo, NY
A set of six original Norman Cherner dining chairs, made by Plycraft, USA in the 1960s. Bentwood frames, original patent leatherl seats / backs Plycraft labels to the undersides. Th...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Plycraft

Materials

Patent Leather, Walnut, Plywood

Eames Style Lounge Chair & Ottoman in Leather by Plycraft
By Plycraft, Charles Eames, Selig, Herman Miller
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Vintage 1960s Plycraft lounge chair & ottoman. Featuring molded rosewood wood frame, bentwood arms and supple black leather. It swivels and reclines. Very very comfortable. What an...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Plycraft

Materials

Leather, Rosewood

George Mulhauser, Sultana Chaise Longue, Moulded Plywood, Velvet, USA, 1960s
By Plycraft, George Mulhauser
Located in High Point, NC
A black-painted moulded plywood and brown velvet chaise longue designed by George Mulhauser and produced by Plycraft, USA, 1960s. seat height 17”.
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Plycraft

Materials

Velvet, Plywood

Bentwood Side Chair By Norman Cherner For Plycraft
By Norman Cherner, Plycraft
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Mid-century modern, ply bentwood, side chair by Norman Cherner for Plycraft in a dark walnut finish. This iconic mid-century modern chair that is striking from every angle can be use...
Category

Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Plycraft

Materials

Bentwood, Plywood

Set of 4 Norman Cherner Directional Side Chairs Plycraft
By Plycraft, Directional, Norman Cherner
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 Plycraft

Materials

Chrome

Early Norman Cherner dining / desk / side chair in patent leather Plycraft Inc.
By Plycraft, Norman Cherner
Located in Buffalo, NY
Stunning Norman Cherner dining / desk / side chair in original green patent leather .manufactured by Plycraft Inc.. Amazing original condition. Retains original labels as well as in...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Plycraft

Materials

Patent Leather, Bentwood, Plywood

1960s vintage Mr. Chair and ottoman by George Mulhauser for Plycraft
By Plycraft, George Mulhauser
Located in Phoenix, AZ
1960s vintage Mr. Chair and ottoman by George Mulhauser for Plycraft. This iconic mid century modern chair features sculptural bent walnut armrests and new textured leather tufted up...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Plycraft

Materials

Leather, Walnut

George Mulhauser Leather Ottoman Chrome Star Base for Plycraft
By George Mulhauser, Plycraft
Located in Munich, DE
Ottoman by George Mulhauser for Plycraft´, USA, 1960s. Steel and faux black leather. Measures: H 40 x W 54 x D 61 cm.  
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Plycraft

Materials

Steel

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Creators Similar to Plycraft

Plycraft furniture for sale on 1stDibs.

Plycraft 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 Plycraft furniture, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. Many of the original furniture by Plycraft 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 Tomlinson, George Mulhauser, and Norman Cherner. Prices for Plycraft furniture can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $350 and can go as high as $32,000, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $3,650.
Questions About Plycraft
  • 1stDibs ExpertFebruary 13, 2024
    No, Plycraft is not the same as Eames. Plycraft is the name of an American furniture manufacturer founded in the early 1950s in Massachusetts. Eames refers to Charles and Ray Eames, two of the most celebrated furniture designers of the 20th century. After marrying in 1941, Charles and Ray moved to Los Angeles, where they established the Eames Office and eventually built their lifelong residence, the Eames House in Pacific Palisades as part of the Case Study House Program. Their designs are among Herman Miller’s most popular products of all time. Plycraft founder Paul Goldman was the company’s principal designer, but George Mulhauser and Norman Cherner were also enlisted to create furniture for the brand. On 1stDibs, shop vintage Eames furniture (and Plycraft, too).

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